S&P 500 futures tick higher as traders get set to wrap up the first quarter: Live updates

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2023. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

S&P 500 futures rose slightly Friday as traders awaited a key inflation print and got ready to wrap up the first quarter of 2023.

S&P 500 futures gained 0.18%, and Nasdaq-100 futures were marginally higher. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 69 points, or 0.2%.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures index, is due to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect that the core PCE, which excludes energy and food costs, gained 0.4% in February from the prior month and added 4.7% on an annualized basis.

Investors will be looking for signs that inflation is cooling, which could lead to the Fed wrapping up its rate-hiking campaign soon.

Personal income data and consumer spending will also be issued Friday morning. The final March reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is due at 10 a.m. ET.

Friday also marks the last day of the first quarter. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are up 5.5% and 14.8%, respectively, for the quarter through Thursday’s close. The Dow, however, has lost nearly 1%.

For the month, however, the three major averages are up. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have gained 2% and 4.9%, respectively, in March. The Dow, meanwhile, is up 0.6% through Thursday’s close.

The recent rally is “helping to confirm the market’s perception that the problems that brought the market to a crisis of confidence could very well be contained,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist for LPL Financial. 

“The semiconductors, [which] have come to be viewed as an important bellwether for global growth, delivered a strong performance,” Krosby continued.

The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) has been on fire this year, surging more than 28%. This month alone, it’s up more than 9%.

However, Krosby noted that the markets are not yet completely in the clear from an economic downturn. 

“Economic concerns enveloping recession fears haven’t vanished as the yield curve still represents a counter to the market’s climb higher,” Krosby added.

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