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Stock Futures Choppy Ahead of Powell’s Comments


U.S. stock futures were choppy Thursday as investors awaited comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about the outlook for inflation and the central bank’s views on rising bond yields.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 wavered between gains and losses after two consecutive days of declines for the benchmark. Contracts linked to the technology-heavy Nasdaq-100 were relatively flat. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures edged 0.1% higher.

Fresh data showed that 745,000 Americans applied for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended Feb. 27, up from 736,000 the week prior. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 750,000 jobless claims.

The stock market is continuing to reflect and react to moves in government bonds. A recent selloff in U.S. sovereign debt has lifted Treasury yields, curbing investors’ appetite for the technology stocks that had soared in a low-yield environment. Some money managers are betting that additional fiscal stimulus in the U.S. will boost inflation and cause the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than they had expected. That has led to a jump in real yields, or the returns on bonds after adjusting for inflation expectations.

Investors say they are hoping Mr. Powell will answer questions on how he views the jump in yields when he speaks at The Wall Street Journal Jobs Summit at 12:05 p.m. ET. Central bank officials have previously said that they will keep monetary policy loose until the economy is stronger, and that they view the rise in bond yields as a signal that investors are optimistic about the U.S. economic recovery.

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