Futures edge higher in early hours on debt talks optimism

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Monday amid optimism that lawmakers will reach an agreement to raise the U.S. debt limit to avoid a catastrophic default, and ahead of speeches by Federal Reserve officials lined up through the week.

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden said he expects to meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday and remained optimistic about agreeing on a deal to raise the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit.


A standoff in Washington has added to global economic worries, as a new non-partisan congressional report cited “significant risk” of a historic default within the first two weeks of June.

“There is some hope forming around the Hill at the start of the week that real progress may finally be made in reaching an agreement on the US debt ceiling,” said Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities.

At 5:28 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 108 points, or 0.32%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 15.5 points, or 0.37%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 44.5 points, or 0.33%.

This week, a host of Federal Reserve officials are set to speak at various forums, with Chair Jerome Powell at a panel before the Thomas Laubach Research Conference, hosted by the Fed in Washington on Friday. Markets are waiting to hear them to gauge the pricing of rate cuts this year.

Retail sales, housing data and a reading on weekly jobless claims will also be watched through the week, after U.S. consumer sentiment slumped to a six-month low on Friday, and U.S. long-term inflation expectations jumped to the highest since 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1% last week, while the S&P 500 index fell 0.3% and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%.

Among early movers, ONEOK Inc fell 5.9% in premarket trading as it agreed on Sunday to buy U.S. pipeline operator Magellan Midstream Partners in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $18.8 billion including debt. Shares of Magellan rose 7.0%.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)