U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open on Wednesday as fresh data signaled signs of cooling inflation ahead of the Federal Reserve’s final policy decision of the year, where it is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

The Labor Department’s report showed the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand rose 0.9% on an annual basis in November. Economists polled by Reuters had estimated a 1% advance.

On a month-on-month basis, producer prices were unchanged, against estimates of a 0.1% increase.

The recent slew of reports, including the consumer price index (CPI) data on Tuesday, have cemented expectations that interest rates have peaked, with traders also estimating potential rate cuts next year.

The upbeat sentiment led Wall Street’s main indexes to close at fresh 2023 highs on Tuesday.

“The numbers are more or less in line with expectations and continue to show that inflation is headed in the right direction,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.

Wall St inches up after November inflation data

All eyes are now on the central bank’s interest rate decision at the end of its two-day meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Focus will also be on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments after the policy announcement and the release of the “dot plot”, which could provide a glimpse into monetary policy trajectory.

Money markets have almost fully priced in the Fed holding rates at the current level of 5.25%-5.50% later in the day. Traders now see possible monetary easing next year, estimating a nearly 79% chance of at least a 25-basis-point rate cut in May 2024, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool.

“They’re (Fed) not going to declare victory on inflation and that means any early rate cuts that the market seems to be forecasting is likely to be disappointing,” Cardillo said.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are also scheduled to deliver their policy decisions later this week.

Meanwhile, nearly $5 trillion in U.S. stock options are due to expire on Friday, set to be the largest on record, which strategists said is likely to keep market volatility in check.

At 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 67 points, or 0.18%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 9.25 points, or 0.2%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 47 points, or 0.29%.

Among single stocks, Tesla slid 0.9% before the bell as the electric-vehicle maker will lose up to $7,500 federal tax credit for some Model 3 vehicles.

Pfizer dropped 6.4% after the drugmaker forecast 2024 revenue below Wall Street expectations, while Southwest Airlines slipped 2.0% after the carrier raised its forecast for fourth-quarter fuel costs.

Take-Two Interactive Software added 2.3% as the video-game maker is set to be included in the Nasdaq 100 index, effective December 18.


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