Jan 19, 2024: U.S. stock futures are slightly higher, indicating a continuation of the previous session’s gains. Additionally, the U.S. Congress has passed a bill providing short-term funding for the federal government, averting a shutdown. Meanwhile, reports suggest that department store chain Macy’s plans to cut thousands of jobs and close several locations.
- U.S. Futures Move Higher
In early trading on Friday, U.S. stock futures show a positive trend, pointing towards an extension of the gains from the previous session.
As of 05:16 ET (10:16 GMT), Dow futures have risen by 73 points or 0.2%, S&P 500 futures are up by 18 points or 0.4%, and Nasdaq 100 futures have inched up by 114 points or 0.7%.
Thursday witnessed a surge in major averages on Wall Street, driven partly by the largest one-day jump in shares of Apple and increased demand for artificial intelligence, leading to a more than 20% rise in 2024 revenue for chipmaker TSMC.
Strong labor market data in the U.S. also contributed to boosting confidence in the economy’s trajectory, supporting hopes for a “soft landing,” where inflation cools without causing an economic downturn. This positive sentiment contrasts with recent concerns that the Federal Reserve might not move to lower interest rates from their more than two-decade highs.
- Existing Home Sales Data Ahead
Friday’s focus will be on fresh housing market data, providing insights into the state of the U.S. consumer.
The expected rise in existing home sales by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in December, compared to the previous month, is anticipated to reveal the lowest level for the measure since 2008 over the entire year.
Throughout much of 2023, elevated mortgage rates in the U.S. dissuaded many buyers from entering the residential property market. However, signs of cooling in mortgage rates have emerged, with the average fixed-rate 30-year mortgage dropping to its lowest level since May, according to Freddie Mac.
- Congress Approves Short-Term Funding Bill
U.S. congressional lawmakers have approved a bill to provide short-term funding for the federal government until March. While this averts an immediate government shutdown, policy debates loom over issues such as the war in Ukraine and U.S. border security.
The Senate’s 77-18 vote and the House’s 314-108 approval now send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for signing. This resolution allows funding for several key departments until March 1 and extends funding for the rest of the government until March 8. The previous funding deadlines were set for Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, respectively.
However, leaders in Congress still face the challenge of securing funding for the nearly $1.7 trillion U.S. spending deal reached earlier this month. The details, particularly regarding additional funding for border control to gain Republican support for military aid to Ukraine, are yet to be finalized.
- Macy’s Plans Job Cuts and Store Closures
Macy’s reportedly plans to reduce its workforce and close stores as part of cost-cutting measures to streamline its operations.
The department store chain is expected to cut 2,350 jobs, constituting 3.5% of its workforce, and close five stores. As of January 2023, Macy’s had 94,570 full- and part-time employees and operated 722 store locations.