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* Morgan Stanley lead banks higher on capital payout hike
* CSX Corp gains on Citigroup’s upgrade
* Futures: Dow up 0.25%, S&P flat, Nasdaq dips 0.20% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)
June 29 (Reuters) - The blue-chip Dow index was set to open higher on Tuesday, as shares of big U.S. banks rose, while investors looked to consumer confidence data against the backdrop of rising inflation and a spike in COVID-19 cases across Asia.
Morgan Stanley jumped 3.5% in premarket trading, leading gains among the lenders after it doubled its dividend to 70 cents per share in the third quarter.
JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group gained 0.3% and 1.2%, as they hiked their capital payouts after the U.S. Federal Reserve gave them a clean bill of health following their annual “stress tests” last week.
The Conference Board’s data, due at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to show consumer confidence improved this month after steadying in May.
“Even though we are going to get some data today and the rest of the week, the big number is the jobs number and we are going to balance along here till we get that information on Friday,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.
Market participants are closely watching the non-farm payroll report on Friday, that could pave way for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy stance which hinges on an equitable recovery of the labor market.
Financials, energy and other economy-linked stocks have lagged in the past few sessions as easing fears over runaway inflation stirred a move into the tech-heavy growth names, leading the benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to a series of record highs.
“A part of what drives tech is that it is an answer to how to continue to work, in the world of COVID,” Forrest said.
All the three major Wall Street indexes are set for their fifth straight quarter of gains, boosted by ultra-loose monetary policy, a rebounding U.S. economy and robust corporate earnings.
With the S&P 500 climbing nearly 14% in the first half of the year, focus will shift to the second-quarter earnings season, beginning July, which could decide the path for the next leg of the equity markets.
At 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 87 points, or 0.25%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.01%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 28.5 points, or 0.2%.
Facebook Inc dipped, a day after crossing $1 trillion in market cap and joining the likes of Apple, Microsoft , Saudi Aramco, Amazon and Google-owner Alphabet that now make up 10% of world equities.
CSX Corp gained 2.6% after Citigroup upgraded the U.S. railroad operator’s stock to “buy” from “neutral”. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)