FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the ICE trading information on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 25, 2022

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures crept higher on Friday, with beaten-down growth stocks resuming their march higher even as investors grappled with concerns about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the possibility of bigger interest rate hikes.

Tech titans Meta Platforms, Microsoft Corp, Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and rose in premarket trading after leading Wall Street’s rebound recently.

The S&P 500 technology sector has risen 2.4% so far this week but is still down 8.7% year-to-date.

U.S. stocks have rallied in six of the last eight sessions as gains in megacap stocks and strong economic data overshadowed worries about escalating geopolitical tensions, higher oil prices and calls for aggressive action by the Federal Reserve to combat surging inflation.

The Fed is seen raising rates to 2.4% by February 2023, from 0.25-0.50% now, with the market pricing in a 76.8% probability that the Fed will hike by 50 basis points in May. [IRPR]

Big banks struggled for direction in premarket trading. The banks index has fallen 2.9% so far in March even as the U.S. central bank last week raised interest rates for the first time since 2018.

At 06:48 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.06%, S&P 500 e-minis rose 3.5 points or 0.08%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9.25 points, or 0.06%.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, inched up after closing at its lowest level since Feb 10.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is due to travel to Poland on Friday for a first-hand look at the refugee crisis after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after NATO promised Kyiv new military support while London and Washington stepped up sanctions on Moscow.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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