Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Wall Street set to grind higher, Powell hearing on deck

(Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 index was set to open at a record on Tuesday, gaining momentum from a positive tone in Europe, and putting aside any nerves over a U.S. tax bill and confirmation hearing for Federal Reserve chair nominee Jerome Powell.

The Senate Banking Committee will hold the hearing at 9:45 a.m. ET (1445 GMT) to confirm Powell’s nomination as head of the U.S. central bank.

In prepared remarks for the hearing, Powell defended the Fed’s use of broad crisis-fighting powers, placing himself as an extension of the line followed by current Chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke.

Analysts see little impact on the stock market.

“Some of his comments were already published and he is basically going to follow the present monetary policy,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

“The tax code is really what’s on the minds of the investors right now,” Cardillo said.

The U.S. tax plan faces potential opposition from two Republican lawmakers who could prevent the sweeping legislation from reaching the Senate floor.

President Donald Trump was due to lobby Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon in the U.S. Capitol, with the Senate poised for a possible vote on the bill as early as Thursday.

Wall Street’s major indexes ended flat on Monday as gains for Amazon, following a slew of online promotions and discounts on Cyber Monday, countered losses for energy company shares.

Oil suffered losses for a second day on uncertainty over the outcome of a key OPEC meeting this week, where the members will decide on the production policy for next year.

At 9:03 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 59 points, or 0.25 percent, with 27,639 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.75 points, or 0.14 percent, with 174,385 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9.5 points, or 0.15 percent, on volume of 30,131 contracts.

Shares of Rockwell Automation slipped 2 percent after bigger rival Emerson Electric withdrew its offer to buy the company. Emerson’s shares were up 1.2 percent.

Buffalo Wild Wings rose about 7 percent as Roark Capital Group, owner of restaurant chain Arby‘s, announced it had agreed to buy the company for about $2.4 billion.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, due at 10:00 a.m. ET, is expected to have decreased to 124 in November from 125.9 in October, when it hit a near 17-year high.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman

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