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Futures crawl higher, Wells Fargo down after results

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U.S. stock index futures eked out gains on Friday as investors braced for retail sales data, while Wells Fargo became the third major U.S. bank to report disappointing earnings.

The fourth-largest U.S. lender’s shares fell 2.3% in premarket trading as the bank set aside more money to cover potential loan losses.

Investors are also awaiting Citigroup’s results. The big Wall Street banks are building their reserves in anticipation of a sharp economic slowdown as the U.S. Federal Reserve moves aggressively to control inflation.

Both JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley reported a plunge in profits on Thursday and sounded cautious on economic headwinds ahead.

Investors are jittery over a potential 1% Federal Reserve rate hike at the end of July after a grim inflation report on Wednesday highlighted that price pressures were unabated in June.

Easing some nerves, two of the Fed’s most hawkish policymakers on Thursday said they favored another 75-basis-point (bps) interest rate increase at the U.S. central bank’s policy meeting this month.

The probability of a 75 bps and a 100 bps rate hike at the Fed policy meeting scheduled for July 26-27 are now on an even keel, according to the CME group’s Fedwatch tool.

Recession worries have pushed U.S. S&P 500 down 20.5% this year amid a flight to safer assets as traders fret about aggressive policy tightening campaigns, inflation and disappointing corporate earnings.

With the size and pace of this year’s rate hikes hanging on upcoming economic indicators, U.S. retail sales data for June due at 8:30 a.m. EST and the inflation expectations component in the University of Michigan’s consumer survey are also in focus.

“Higher retail sales will put the 1.0% hike front and centre again, and I would expect we will see another rerun of the early Wall Street price action of yesterday, i.e., sell everything, buy dollars,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

At 6:44 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 90 points, or 0.29%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 8.5 points, or 0.22%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 21.75 points, or 0.18%.

U.S. shares of Alibaba Group slipped 0.5% premarket following a news report that the Chinese tech giant’s cloud division has been summoned by Shanghai authorities in connection with a theft of police data.