US stock futures inch higher as Wall St keeps rate cues in focus By– U.S. stock index futures rose slightly in evening deals on Wednesday after Wall Street stemmed a two-day rout, although uncertainty over interest rates, especially ahead of key labor market data and Federal Reserve comments, kept any upside limited. 

Markets were also navigating weaker-than-expected purchasing managers index (PMI) data and middling signals on interest rates from Fed officials, both of which offered few direct trading cues. 

rose 0.07% to 5,270.0 points, while rose 0.13% to 18,396.50 points by 19:41 ET (23:41 GMT). rose 0.03% to 39,494.0 points. 

Powell offers scant cues on rate cuts, nonfarm payrolls approach 

Speaking on Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that while the central bank still intended to cut interest rates in 2024, he did not specify the timing or scale of the potential cuts. 

Powell also said that sticky inflation and labor market strength will deter the Fed from any cuts in the near-term- sparking some questions over whether the central bank will have enough impetus to begin cutting rates in June. 

His comments come just days before closely-watched data for March, which is due this Friday. Any signs of a strong labor market are likely to factor into a more hawkish outlook for the Fed.

Wall Street indexes took little support from Powell’s comments, but did manage to somewhat stem a two-day rout, after the beginning of the second quarter sparked some profit-taking and dragged U.S. benchmarks away from record highs. 

The rose 0.1% to 5,211.49 points, while the rose 0.2% to finish at 16,277.46 points on Wednesday . The lagged its peers, falling 0.1% to 39,127.14 points. 

More Fed speakers also on tap

But before the nonfarm payrolls data, addresses by other Fed officials are also due on Thursday.

FOMC members and are set to speak after the market open on Thursday.

Their comments come after several other Fed officials warned through the week that the central bank was in no hurry to begin cutting interest rates. 

Paramount, Blackberry rise in aftermarket trade

Among major aftermarket movers, shares of Paramount Global (NASDAQ:) rose 1.3% after Reuters reported the firm was in exclusive merger talks with peer Skydance, after it received a $26 billion all-cash offer from Apollo Global Management (NYSE:). 

New York-listed shares of BlackBerry Ltd (NYSE:) surged over 6% after the enterprise software firm clocked an unexpected profit in the fourth quarter. 

Apparel maker Levi Strauss & Co (NYSE:) rose 7.7% after it lifted its annual earnings guidance after clocking stronger-than-expected quarterly results.

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