Stock futures are flat as investors await Wednesday’s decision on a rate hike from the Federal Reserve

Expect some disagreement at the Fed tomorrow, says Virtus' Joe Terranova

Stock futures were flat on Tuesday night as investors await the Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike decision in its bid to crush inflation, due on Wednesday.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 4 points, or 0.01%. Futures linked to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 ticked up 0.01% and down 0.02% respectively.

Stocks rose for a second day in regular trading on Tuesday, driven by a cooler-than-expected inflation report. The consumer price index for November was 7.1% on the year, less than the 7.3% increase expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The increase of 0.1% from the previous month was also less than expected.

The signal that inflation may have peaked was positive for stocks, as it means the Fed could be a step closer to halting rate hikes or moving to cuts, which would energize stocks.

On Wednesday, the central bank concludes its December meeting and delivers its latest interest rate hike. Investors broadly expect a 50 basis point increase – or half a percentage point – a minor bump after four consecutive 75 basis point increases. A basis point is equal to one hundredth of one percent.

Chairman Jerome Powell will also speak on Wednesday, providing further clues about what will come from the Fed in 2023. In previous meetings this year, traders have been sensitive to Powell’s language, interpreting his tone as hawkish or dovish.

“The market obviously thinks there’s going to be a pivot or a pause, that’s what we saw today,” Steve Grasso, CEO of Grasso Global, said on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” “If [Powell] put a wet blanket on it, the market is going to sell off.”

The Fed meeting is the last of the year. The next central bank meeting will take place from 31 January to 1 February 2023.

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