US futures fall as rate-cut bets get a reality check

US stock futures fell on Wednesday to signal no let-up in a rough January, as investors’ optimism for interest rate cuts got a reality check and worries about China’s economy grew.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) futures fell 0.4%, while S&P 500 (^GSPC) futures slid 0.4%, set to build on Tuesday’s losing start to the holiday-shortened week. Futures on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) were down roughly 0.5%.

Stocks have struggled as policymakers push back against persistent bets that central banks will cut rates early and often in 2024. ECB president Christine Lagarde on Wednesday joined the likes of Federal Reserve Governor Chris Waller in warning that expectations of imminent loosening are too high.

Another knockback came from disappointing GDP data suggesting that China’s growth is flagging despite stimulus measures. Oil prices fell amid fears of a pullback in demand from the world’s second biggest economy.

Hopes now rest on quarterly earnings, with the season set to pick up pace, and the release of the December retail sales report later Wednesday. Fed officials have been keen to stress that their policy decision making will be driven by incoming economic data.

Regional bank fourth-quarter results are in focus in the morning after earnings from Wall Street’s big lenders got a mixed reception. U.S. Bancorp (USB) and Citizens Financial (CFG) are on deck to report.

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