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In what turned out as the largest intraday range (116 handles) since February 1, 2023, the S&P 500 index futures were poised to test all-time highs Thursday morning.

In a reversal of roles from earlier this week, the bulls had control of the premarket session, as last week’s initial jobless claims came in above expectations by 3.8% and February’s US trade balance came in below expectations by 1.8%. It seemed market participants were confident of several rate cuts coming later this year.

The regular session commenced nearly 40 handles up from Wednesday’s close, but faced some initial selling pressure that brought the index futures back below the 5300 level. The bulls didn’t give up, as the index futures were soon testing the all-time closing high during the lunch hour.

It was during the lunch hour that comments from many Fed Presidents started to rule the day’s news, despite Fed Chair Jerome Powell not being among them. Compared to Powell’s comments Wednesday, many Fed Presidents echoed more concerns in regards to achieving the 2% inflation target. But it was Kashkari that had the most hawkish statement of the day, “It’s possible [the] Fed won’t cut this year if inflation stalls.” 

While the selloff started during the lunch hour, that comment put the final nail in the coffin and it seemed nearly all market participants hit the bid. The index futures quickly went into the negative, pausing near Tuesday’s low before continuing lower. The session concluded just above the lows since the attempt by the bulls for a last-minute rally failed. For the day, the index futures lost 69.25 handles, closing at 5197.25.

Not all top components were in the red, as Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) emerged as the biggest gainer. The issue was able to advance by $2.73 or 1.62% to close at $171.11 for the day, on news of plans to export new right-hand drive vehicles to India later this year.

That performance was nearly three percent better than the cash index’s decline of 1.22%.

On the other hand, the high-beta NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ: NVDA) ended up being the biggest loser. For the day, the issue declined by $30.59 or 3.44% to close at $859.05.