U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower Wednesday morning, as market participants eagerly anticipated comments from the world’s most powerful central banker.
Market focus is largely attuned to the testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, with investors anxious to learn whether he will confirm or confound expectations for U.S. policy easing this month.
Over the next two days, Powell is expected to talk about slowing economic activity and increased risks — showing that the Fed is ready to cut interest rates as needed.
However, Powell is also likely to keep the markets — and the White House — guessing about how soon and how deep the Fed intends to trim rates, when it meets at the end of July. The prevailing view, priced into the futures market, is for a 100% chance of a quarter point rate cut July 31.
Overnight, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said the U.S. central bank was debating the risks and benefits of letting the world’s largest economy run “a little hotter.”
On the data front, wholesale trade figures for May will be released at around 10:00 a.m. ET.
— CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed to this report.