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Sometimes good news is good news, and no news is also good news. For the S&P 500 index futures, Thursday’s leap day session confirmed that no news is good news in the current market environment.

The market’s anticipation was palpable ahead of the PCE inflation data release scheduled for 8:30am EST, with premarket activity cautiously treading in the red, yet finding a resilient support level in the low 5060s – helping to form a triple bottom over recent days.

January’s PCE indices and personal spending came in aligning with expectations, and personal income exceeded forecasts (1.0% vs. 0.3% exp. for January), and the bulls seized the moment. This positive reception to the economic indicators propelled the index into a positive open of the regular session.

However, the initial rally encountered resistance, dissipating shortly after the session’s commencement. By noon, the bears attempted to revisit the premarket lows but their descent stopped short at the 5070 mark in the index futures. The afternoon witnessed a gradual resurgence from the bulls, partially buoyed by the technology sector and AI-involved companies, which emerged as the day’s luminaries.

Despite reaching new intraday highs towards the session’s close, a sudden influx of month-end selling pressure saw the index futures retract by 18 handles in a dramatic final two minutes. Nevertheless, the session ended on a positive note once closing imbalances were factored in, with the index futures up by 22.75 handles at 5103.75. This established a new all-time closing high, and for the month made for a 3.56% or 175.25-handle gain. Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) led the gains among the index’s top components, climbing $3.60 or 2.08% to close at $176.76, setting a new 52-week closing high. 

This performance easily eclipsed the cash index’s modest advance of 0.36%.

Conversely, UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH) faced challenges, dropping $4.68 or -0.94% to close at $493.60. The drop followed news of a cyberattack disrupting hospital claims processing, marking it as the session’s most significant decliner among top components.


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