Stock futures falter ahead of Fed minutes


US equity futures tottered Wednesday as investors waited for notes from the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting for clues on how officials view inflation and the pace of the economic recovery.

Futures linked to the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ranged between gains and losses. High-tech Nasdaq-100 futures also remained relatively flat. On Tuesday, the indices fell slightly after closing at all-time highs at the beginning of the week.

Signs that the economy is recovering from its coronavirus-driven slide have buoyed investors and helped propel the major indices to unprecedented levels this week. The rapid advance of vaccination, combined with monetary and fiscal support, is contributing to the recovery of the labor market and the manufacturing sector. Money managers are betting that more of the economy will return to normal soon and give travel and leisure businesses a boost.

“We expected the data to improve at this point, and the first signs are that the recovery is on the right track,” said Hugh Gimber, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management. “This is the period when the forecast for a strong recovery in growth begins to look more like a strong recovery in growth.”

Some investors remain nervous that easing restrictions, coupled with stifled consumer demand, could boost inflation and lead the Fed to raise interest rates earlier than expected.

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