Stock futures turn higher ahead of manufacturing reports

Traders will study the release of February's Durable Goods

U.S. equity futures are trading higher ahead of a key manufacturing report on Wednesday.

Stocks had been trading cautiously following comments on Tuesday from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen concerning the economy.

Nasdaq futures are higher by 0.8%, while Dow and S&P 500 futures gained 0.3%.

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In Washington, Yellen and Powell told Congress more must be done to limit economic damage. Powell stressed that he does not expect stimulus programs to trigger inflation.

Investors are also reassessing their expectations for a fast and widespread global recovery.

Bond yields, or the difference between the market price and the payout at maturity, narrowed as prices rose. The yield of the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.62%, down from last week's level above 1.70%.

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A pair of economic reports could set the direction of trading on Wednesday.

The Census Bureau is expected to say that new orders for manufactured big-ticket items jumped 0.8% month-over-month in February, down from 3.4% the prior month. If you factor out the transportation component orders are anticipated to edge up 0.6%, compared to a 1.3% rise in January. Orders for core capital goods, a closely-watched proxy for business spending, are seen rising 0.5% for the month, up from a 0.4% pop in January.

The research firm IHS Markit will release its flash manufacturing and services PMIs for March.  Both numbers are expected to edge higher from February’s final readings. Recall that any number above 50 indicates an expanding sector.:

Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Wednesday after European governments extended anti-coronavirus lockdowns, clouding the outlook for economic recovery.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 2% and China's Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.3%.

In Europe, Germany extended anti-virus restrictions by three weeks to April 18 and said travelers arriving from abroad by air must be tested for the coronavirus before boarding their flight. The Netherlands extended its lockdown by three weeks.

London's FTSE was trading lower by 0.2%, Germany's DAX was off 0.4% and France's CAC declined 0.2%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 35011.04 +233.28 +0.67%
SP500 S&P 500 4224.63 -7.97 -0.19%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13523.506842 -228.73 -1.66%

On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.8% on Tuesday to 3,910.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9% to 32,423.15.

The Nasdaq, dominated by tech stocks, sank 1.1% to 13,227.70.

In energy markets, oil started to rise following reports that a cargo container ship considered one of the largest in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic.The situation is threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.47 to $59.21 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $3.79 on Tuesday to $57.76 after Germany's lockdown announcement triggered concern demand for industry and travel would decline.

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Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.53 to $62.22 per barrel in London. It lost $3.83 the previous session to $60.79.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.