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U.S. futures edge higher on upbeat Tesla outlook, GDP data awaited


Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Thursday ahead of economic growth data with the Nasdaq climbing nearly half a percent as Tesla’s bullish sales outlook eased worries over the fallout of an economic slowdown on the EV maker.

After Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) disappointing outlook spooked markets in the previous session, Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) better-than-expected quarterly results reassured investors that the EV maker could cope with a slowing economy in 2023.

Tesla jumped 7% in premarket trading, lifting other EV makers like Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O), Lucid Group (LCID.O) and NIO , which rose between 3.3% and 5%.

Growth stocks have been on a winning spree in January, with the S&P 500 Growth index (.IGX) recouping more than half of the losses logged last month.

Focus will be on fourth-quarter GDP advance data at 8:30 a.m. ET, which will likely show the U.S. economy maintained a strong pace of growth, but the momentum slowed considerably towards 2022 end, as higher interest rates chip away demand.

The Commerce Department’s report could mark the last quarter of solid growth before effects of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening spree take hold, with most economists expecting a mild recession by the second half of 2023.

Also on tap is December housing data and weekly jobless claims data.

“All eyes will be on the GDP snapshot, jobs and home sales data out later, indicating whether demand is being squeezed out of the economy and whether more storm clouds are gathering on the horizon,” Susannah Streeter, markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown wrote in a note.

Money markets are pricing in a 25 basis points rate hike by the Fed next week, with a terminal rate of 4.9% in June, still below 5% as backed by many policymakers.

Keeping a lid on gains for Dow e-minis was software firm IBM Corp (IBM.N), which slid 2% after it missed annual cash flow targets, while also flagging a slowing growth in its software and consulting businesses.

At 6:42 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 21 points, or 0.06%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.25 points, or 0.16%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 65 points, or 0.55%.

Chevron Corp (CVX.N) rose 2.9% after the oil major said it would triple its budget for share buybacks to $75 billion.

Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) slipped 2.9% on warning of a loss in the first quarter.