Morning Bid: A quart and two halves

The U.S. Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington
The U.S. Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.

After a heady January brew, investors now see triples all round.

Global stock markets (.MIWD00000PUS) put in their best January in four years, with Wall St's tech-heavy Nasdaq (.IXIC) clocking its biggest January gains since 2001, but now face three tense days to assess how durable that is.

On the radar are three interest rate rises from G4 central banks over the next 26 hours, a mega cap earnings barrage from Apple, Amazon and Alphabet later on Thursday and then the U.S. January jobs report to round out a frenetic week.

February kicked off on Wednesday without too much trepidation about how all that will pan out. Asia and European bourses pushed higher despite a mixed bag of economic news, but S&P500 futures did slip into the red ahead of Wall St's open.

Softer U.S. Treasury yields were calm and collected, the dollar relatively serene.

An expected quarter-point interest rate rise from the U.S. Federal Reserve later on Wednesday would ruffle few feathers as long as the central bank doesn't feel the need to accompany its slowing of the rate hikes with a harsh steer against market pricing for rate cuts later in the year.

Half-point rate rises from the European Central Bank and Bank of England are now the best guess, although dire economic readouts from Britain's ailing economy this year may mean the risk to that consensus is that a split BoE council opts for a smaller move.

News that euro zone headline inflation fell much faster than forecast last month to 8.5% - its lowest since last May - will also take some pressure off the ECB, even if stickier 'core' inflation means a half-point point move is still the most likely outcome this week.

U.S. markets were also enthused by disinflation signals on Tuesday as data showed U.S. labor costs increasing at their slowest pace in a year in the fourth quarter while wage growth slowed.

That was a major relief for those worried about the persistent tightness in the U.S. jobs markets - one reason the Fed may continue to sound hawkish later on Wednesday and why Friday's payrolls update is even more important than usual.

Before the Fed announcement, ADP releases its January private sector employment readout for last month and markets will also scan the December JOLTS job openings report.

In Asia, surveys showed the contraction in China's business activity easing in January as the country opens up again after strict COVID lockdowns. The speed of the pickup disappointed some, however, and may in itself cool fears about the inflationary impact of China's sudden return to business as usual.

India's government unveiled one of its biggest jumps in capital spending in the past decade in its annual budget and said the fiscal deficit would fall, as it tries to create jobs while maintaining financial discipline.

The news was less good for one of India's richest citizens.

Shares in tycoon Gautam Adani's conglomerate plunged again on Wednesday as a rout in his companies deepened to $84 billion in the wake of a U.S. short-seller report, with the billionaire also losing his title as Asia's richest person.

While markets await the 'Triple-A' of Big Tech releases on Thursday, Meta (META.O) is due to report later today and the dour news from elsewhere in the tech sector kept coming.

Overnight, Snap (SNAP.N) said current quarter revenue could decline by as much as 10%, sending its shares down 14% as the company struggles with weak advertising demand.

Intel (INTC.O) said it had made broad cuts to employee and executive pay, a week after the company issued a lower-than-expected sales forecast driven by a loss of market share to rivals and a PC market downturn.

Key developments that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Wednesday:

* U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision, press conference with Fed Chair Jerome Powell

* US Jan ISM manufacturing survey, ADP Jan private sector job report, Dec JOLTS job openings report

* U.S. corp earnings: Meta Platforms, MetLife, Mckesson, Boston Scientific, Otis Worldwide, Old Dominion, Align Technology, Corteva, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Altria, Humana, Peleton etc

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By Mike Dolan, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Twitter: @reutersMikeD

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