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Futures lower, Salesforce to report, Tesla's Roadster - what's moving markets

Published 02/28/2024, 04:36 PM
Updated 02/28/2024, 04:36 PM
© Reuters.

Investing.com -- U.S. stock futures tick down on Wednesday ahead of crucial economic data releases this week. Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) is expected to post record quarterly revenue, while analysts are eager to measure the success of an artificial intelligence push at the software group's data cloud division. Elon Musk says Tesla has finished the production design of its new Roadster, adding that the electric vehicle giant hopes to start shipping the car in 2025.

1. Futures edge lower

Stock futures on Wall Street pointed lower, as investors awaited a raft of incoming U.S. economic data that could impact the timing of potential Federal Reserve interest rate cuts this year.

By 03:12 ET (08:12 GMT), the Dow futures contract had shed 60 points or 0.2%, S&P 500 futures had dipped by 7 points or 0.1%, and Nasdaq 100 futures had lost 47 points or 0.3%.

The main averages were mixed in the prior session, with attention turning in particular to the publication on Thursday of the January personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE), a key inflation gauge.

Traders have been monitoring on a stock market rally powered by soaring enthusiasm for the applications of artificial intelligence that has pushed the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average up to record levels. But with a stream of corporate earnings ebbing, the focus is returning to economic figures and the possible path ahead for U.S. borrowing costs.

While the overall economy has remained resilient in the face of elevated interest rates, a cooldown in price pressures has showed signs of stalling -- a trend that has led several Fed officials to indicate that there is no rush to cut rates down from more than two-decade highs.

2. Salesforce ahead

After a series of blockbuster reports from some of the biggest names in corporate America in recent weeks, the quarterly earnings season is gradually slowing.

Wednesday's releases will be highlighted by software group Salesforce, who is set to unveil its latest returns after the closing bell. Revenue is expected to jump to a record $9.22 billion, helping lift the California-based company back into a fourth-quarter profit after it posted a loss due to restructuring charges in the year-ago period.

Salesforce's data cloud unit could also be in the spotlight, with analysts keen to find out if a push to increasingly incorporate AI into its products and services has supported customer demand.

Elsewhere, low-cost department store chain TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) and pharmaceutical group Viatris are due to report prior to the market open.

3. Next-generation Tesla Roadster to ship in 2025 - Musk

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday that the firm had completed production design on a long-planned update to its Roadster electric sportscar, adding that it was likely to ship starting next year. 

In a series of posts on the social media site X, which Musk also owns, he said that Tesla was aiming to unveil the Roadster by end-2024. 

Musk said that Tesla had “radically increased the design goals” for the upcoming model, which was originally due to be launched in 2020. He also said the new vehicle was being developed in collaboration with SpaceX. 

4. Country Garden faces liquidation petition

Hong Kong-listed Chinese property stocks fell on Wednesday, coming under pressure from renewed concerns over a real estate meltdown after Country Garden (HK:2007) was slapped with a liquidation petition.

The embattled developer was the worst performer among its peers, sliding 6.7% and further into penny stock territory after Ever Credit Ltd filed a liquidation petition against the firm over its non-payment of a HK$1.6 billion loan.

Other property developers also fell, with Sunac China Holdings (HK:1918), Longfor Properties Co (HK:0960) and Logan Property Holdings (HK:3380) falling between 3% and 9%. The broader Hang Seng index fell 1.4%, dragged lower largely by losses in the real estate sector.

Country Garden Services Holdings (HK:6098) -- a unit of the embattled developer -- was the worst performer on the Hang Seng with a 4.6% loss.

5. Oil slips

Oil prices fell slightly in European trade on Wednesday, with traders eyeing a massive weekly build in U.S. inventories and a potential ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Prices were sitting on strong gains from the prior session after media reports suggested that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies -- a group known as OPEC+ -- could maintain its current pace of supply cuts until the end of 2024, keeping global supplies limited.

But crude prices still remained within a $75 to $85 trading range established so far in 2024, as optimism over the OPEC+ reports was countered by industry data showing a massive build in U.S. oil inventories.

Brent oil futures expiring in April fell 0.5% to $83.20 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 0.6% to $78.44 per barrel by 03:15 ET.

Crude was also pressured by strength in the dollar, as markets positioned for the PCE price index data this week.

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