Futures edge higher as earnings reports pour in; Powell testimony eyed

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday helped by a rise in mega-cap technology stocks, as investors awaited Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s testimony and more earnings reports from big banks poured in.

Powell is set to appear before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, and many will be watching for signs if the central bank would alter its stance on rising consumer prices, which it has said are transitory and may begin unwinding its easy-money policies sooner than expected.

Data on Tuesday indicated U.S. consumer prices rose by the most in 13 years last month, pulling the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq from intraday record highs, and taking shine off strong earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) that kicked off the quarterly reporting season.

In line with its peers, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) reported a jump in second-quarter profit as it released reserves it had set aside last year to cover potential loan losses tied to the pandemic. However, its shares fell 2.4% before the opening bell.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) traded mixed in premarket trading ahead of their earnings report on Wednesday.

Among other companies reporting earnings, American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) rose 1.9% after it forecast positive cash flow in the second quarter for the first time since the pandemic began.

Focus will also be on producer price index data for June due at 8:30 a.m ET.

Wall Street has been sensitive to rising inflation, with market participants fearing that a potential hawkish shift by the central bank amid a rise in new coronavirus infections could wobble stocks after a record rally from the pandemic lows last year.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s drive for big new infrastructure investment got a boost on Tuesday when leading Senate Democrats agreed on a $3.5 trillion investment plan they aim to include in a budget resolution to be debated soon.

At 6:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 5 points, or 0.01% and S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.75 points, or 0.06%.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 47.75 points, or 0.32%, on a boost from the heavyweight FAANG group of companies.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) gained 1.6% after J.P. Morgan added the iPhone maker’s stock to its “analyst focus list” and raised its price target.