Futures eke out gains after Fed holds rates steady

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By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady and struck an optimistic tone on the outlook of the economy.

Following three rate cuts this year to preempt a domestic slowdown fueled largely by President Donald Trump’s trade war on China, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “Our economic outlook remains a favorable one, despite global developments and ongoing risks”.

The central bank is expected to stand pat on rates this time, with investors focused more on U.S.-China trade relations as it now lies on Trump to decide whether to impose tariffs on nearly $160 billion in Chinese consumer goods on Dec. 15.

The Fed’s move to ease monetary policy this year has supported the rise in stocks to record highs, along with a slightly calmer tone on trade and some relief in corporate earnings. The S&P 500 index () is up 25% so far in 2019.

Investors across the globe braced for a Brexit-defining election in Britain, with exit polls set to begin at 5 p.m. ET (2200 GMT).

Also in focus is European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde who is expected to keep interest rates on hold in her first policy meeting after taking over the role.

At 6:53 a.m. ET, were up 14 points, or 0.05%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.25 points, or 0.07% and were up 9.5 points, or 0.11%.

Data from the Labor Department is expected to show that producer price index for final demand was up 1.2% last month after rising 1.1% in October. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Among stocks, Starbucks Corp (O:) rose 1.8% in premarket trading after J.P.Morgan raised its rating on the coffee chain to “overweight”.

General Electric (N:) climbed 1.7% after UBS upgraded the industrial conglomerate’s shares to “buy”.

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