Wednesday’s session in the S&P 500 index futures was a feast for the bears, fulfilling expectations of a follow-through after Tuesday’s after-hours selloff. Though the overnight and premarket hours didn’t hold any significant moves, it still made over a lower open of today’s regular session given the decline after Tuesday’s closing bell.
As trading commenced, the bears quickly asserted dominance, driving the index futures down to test the psychological 4900 level before the highly anticipated FOMC meeting at 2pm EST. The meeting initially sparked a brief selloff, followed by a rapid rally in response to Fed Chair Powell’s comments acknowledging “good progress” in the economy and a perceived easing of inflation.
However, this upward momentum was short-lived as the meeting progressed. The bearish selloff was fueled by Powell’s remarks indicating a rate cut in March as unlikely. This sentiment prevailed into the closing bell, where the index futures ended at the lows of the session.
The index futures closed notably lower by 80.50 handles at 4870.50, erasing most of January’s gains. For the month, this translated to an increase of 1.05% or 50.50 handles in total.
Among the top components of the index, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) stood out as the biggest winner of the day. In contrast to the tech wreck, the healthcare company advanced by $8.13 or 1.61%, closing at $511.74.
This gain was more than three percent better than the cash index’s decrease of 1.63%.
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) faced a steep decline, becoming the session’s most significant loser among top components. Following its Q4 earnings report released after hours on Tuesday, which presented a less optimistic outlook for Search growth in 2024, investors rapidly exited the stock. Alphabet’s shares plummeted by $11.25 or 7.35%, ending the day at $141.80.