NEW YORK, March 3 — US stock indexes were set for a higher open today, with all eyes on megacap growth stocks that led a rally in the previous session after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pointed to a cautious tightening amid the Ukraine crisis.

Investors will continue to look for clues on the Fed’s policy stance as Powell’s Congress testimony enters its second day.

Futures also got a boost after oil prices slipped from multi-year highs following rumors of a deal with Iran that would allow the country the export more oil. Read full story

Growth stocks and big banks inched higher. Tesla Inc,, Microsoft Corp, Meta Platforms, Apple Inc and Google owner-Alphabet Inc rose between 0.4 per cent and 0.9 per cent.

Citigroup C.N underperformed, down 0.6 per cent after KBW downgraded the stock to “market perform”.

A Ukrainian official said Ukraine-Russia talks would start in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the goals of Russia’s operation in Ukraine - its demilitarisation and neutral status - will be achieved in any case. 

“Things are a little calm on a relative basis, not from a long term perspective, but in terms of what’s been going on since Russia attacked Ukraine,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“I would say probably because it appears that Russia is not making an enormous amount of progress right now that the Ukrainian resistance is much stronger than what was expected and we also got a little bit of certainty about Fed policy from Jay Powell yesterday.

US stocks rallied sharply yesterday after Powell said he will back a quarter point rate increase when the Fed meets March 15-16, assuaging some fears of an aggressive policy tightening by the US central bank.Read full story

He will testify before the Senate Banking Committee later in the day. A host of economic data is also due, including the ISM non-manufacturing PMI at 10:00 am ET.

At 8:43 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 119 points, or 0.35 per cent, S&P 500 e-minis were up 14.5 points, or 0.33 per cent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 28.25 points, or 0.2 per cent.

Citigroup upgraded US equities to “overweight” as it sees demand for rate-sensitive growth stocks due to a sharp drop in bond yields following the Ukraine crisis. Read full story

American Eagle Outfitters Inc slipped 4.8 per cent after the apparel chain forecast a decline in earnings for the first half of 2022 as freight expenses surge and benefits from federal stimulus fade. Read full story

Best Buy Co Inc  rose 5.1 per cent after the consumer electronics retailer announced 26 per cent increase in quarterly dividend and plans to spend about US$1.5 billion in share repurchase in 2023 Read full story

The CBOE volatility index was last trading at 30.31. — Reuters