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Market Snapshot: U.S. stock indexes trim losses after Fed minutes reiterate support for faster rate hikes and significant balance sheet cuts


U.S. stock index futures wobbled Wednesday ahead of a report on January retail sales and the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

Investors were also keeping watch on the geopolitical crisis surrounding Ukraine, after a NATO official said they had seen no signs of Russian troop withdrawal around that country.

How are stock-index futures trading?

S&P 500 futures

fell 0.2% to 4,456

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures

dropped 0.2% to 34,832

Nasdaq-100 futures

slipped 0.1% to 14,585

On Tuesday, the Dow industrials

surged 422.67 points, or 1.2%, to close at 34,988.84, while the S&P 500 index

rose 1.6% to 4,471.07. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.5% to 14,139.07.

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What’s driving the markets?

All three benchmarks logged the first win in four sessions on Tuesday, on hopes Russia can be persuaded not to invade Ukraine. Reports that some Russian troops had moved back to their bases, and reports that Moscow was ready to talk with NATO and the U.S. drove some relief buying on Wall Street.

Some optimism faded Wednesday, after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that “we have not seen any withdrawal” of those Russian forces. “What we see is that they have increased the number of troops and more troops are on their way,” he said.

President Joe Biden urged Moscow to “choose diplomacy” on Tuesday, warning that a Russian move into Ukraine was still possible and reports that those Russian units had returned home couldn’t be verified.

U.S. economic data will swing into focus on Wednesday, with January retail sales, expected to rise 2.1% after a 1.9% drop in December, due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Import prices for January are due at the same time, followed by industrial production, business inventories and the National Association of Home Builder’s latest index.

Later in the afternoon, investors will get the minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve meeting.

“Today’s FOMC minutes of the Jan. 26 meeting will be scrutinized for any rhetoric indicating a lean for hiking or not hiking in larger increments than 25 basis points,” said strategists at Saxo Bank, in a note to clients. “The market has priced in just over 40 basis points of hiking through that March FOMC minutes.”

Earnings news will continue to roll in on Wednesday, with earnings due from Shopify Inc.
Kraft Heinz Co.

and Analog Devices Inc.
followed by Nvidia Corp.
Cisco Systems Inc.
Applied Materials Inc.
Tripadvisor Inc.

and more after the close.

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Elsewhere, oil prices

were nearing $93 a barrel, up about 0.8%, while natural-gas futures

climbed nearly 5% to $4.542 per million British thermal units.

What companies are in focus?

Roblox Corp.

shares sank 15% after the social-gaming platform reported disappointing quarterly results.

Stock in Upstart Holdings Inc.

soared 25% after the fintech company blew past earnings expectations and announced buybacks.

Ericsson AB’s

U.S.-listed shares slid 9%, tracking losses in Stockholm, after the Swedish telecommunications provider said a probe over Iraq dealings revealed it may have made payments to Islamic State terrorist group.

Shares of ViacomCBS

fell 9% in premarket trading after the media group reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street expectations. The company announced a name change to Paramount Global, after reporting a record surge in streaming-service business.

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