US STOCKS-Wall St on course for higher open, eyes on data


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Oil stocks gain on supply worries after Red Sea attack


US Steel jumps as Nippon Steel to buy co in $14.9 bln deal


Apple slips as China iPhone ban accelerates – report


Futures up: Dow 0.15%, S&P 0.27%, Nasdaq 0.15%

(Updated at 8:36 a.m. ET/1336 GMT)

By Sruthi Shankar and Johann M Cherian

Dec 18 (Reuters) –

Wall Street’s main stock indexes were on track to open higher on Monday as investors awaited economic data later in the week that could offer insights on when the Federal Reserve could start cutting interest rates.

The main Wall Street indexes are looking to end 2023 on a high note as signs of slowing inflation and expectations that the U.S. central bank will soon ease its monetary policy attract buyers. The blue-chip Dow notched its third consecutive session of record high on Friday, while the benchmark S&P 500 marked a seventh straight week of gains in its longest winning streak since 2017.

Economic data this week include the Personal Consumption Expenditure index (PCE) – the Fed’s favored inflation gauge – weekly jobless claims, housing starts and the final reading of the third-quarter GDP report.

U.S. equity markets rallied last week after the Fed left interest rates unchanged and officials’ forecasts collectively priced in three quarters of a percentage point in cuts in 2024.

Traders are currently pricing in a 75% chance that the Fed will cut interest rates at least by 25 basis points in March, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool, even as top Fed policymakers pushed back on the ebullience.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, a voting member next year, said financial markets had got “a little bit ahead” of the central bank on when to expect interest rate cuts, as per a report.

“There’s still a dislocation between a seemingly dovish pivot that the market is expecting the Federal Reserve to take, and what economists are projecting,” said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments.

“The direction is the same, it’s just that the velocity of cuts and the magnitude of cuts might not be on the same page.”

At 8:36 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 58 points, or 0.15%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 13 points, or 0.27%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 25 points, or 0.15%.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs raised its forecast for the S&P 500, which it now sees ending 2024 at 5,100, while decelerating inflation and Fed easing would keep real yields low.

Among single stocks, Apple slipped 0.6% in premarket trading after more Chinese agencies and state-backed companies asked their staff to not bring iPhones and other foreign devices to work, a report said.

Oil stocks Exxon Mobil and Chevron advanced 1.4% each, as crude prices gained over 2% after attacks by the Houthis on ships in the Red Sea raised concerns of oil supply disruptions.

United States Steel surged 28.7% after Japan’s Nippon Steel said it would buy the steelmaker in a $14.9 billion deal including debt.

Adobe added 2% after the Photoshop maker and Figma agreed to terminate their $20 billion merger announced last year.

U.S.-listed shares of Nio climbed 9.0% after the company said it had signed an agreement with CYVN Holdings, for the latter to invest $2.2 billion in the Chinese electric vehicle maker. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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