U.S. Futures Rise as Fed Talks Points to Rate Cut

U.S. futures rose on Friday, after a speech from New York Federal Reserve President John Williams boosted hopes for a half-point cut in interest rates from the central bank at the end of the month.

Williams said Thursday that the central bank needed to “act quickly” when rates were low, as “it's better to take preventative measures than to wait for disaster to unfold.”

Fed Vice President Richard Clarida echoed his New York colleague later in the day, saying policymakers "don't have to wait until things get bad to have a dramatic series of rate cuts."

Nasdaq 100 futures rose 16 points or 0.2% by 6:46 AM ET (10:46 GMT), while Dow futures gained 44 points or 0.2% and S&P 500 futures inched up 1 point or 0.1%.

Microsoft surged 3.4% in premarket trade after its fiscal fourth-quarter revenue and profit was much higher than expected, thanks to increased sales from its cloud business Azure.

Blackrock inched up 0.4% despite reporting a 6.5% drop in second-quarter profit.

Boeing gained 1.9% after removing a key point of uncertainty over its financial outlook by saying it would take a $4.9 billion charge again earnings due to the grounding of its 737 MAX jet.

Anheuser Busch-InBev jumped 4% on news that it is selling its Australian unit to Japan’s Asahi Group for $11.3 billion, including debt. The deal helps the world's largest brewer cut its debt pile by roughly the same amount it was aiming to achieve through the IPO of its Asian business. The AB InBev pulled the IPO last week citing weak investor demand.

Elsewhere, Barrick Gold dipped 0.2% after it increased its buyout offer for Acacia Mining, in a deal that would value Acacia at roughly $1.2 billion. Gold futures hit a five-year high overnight on comments from the two Fed officials, before trimming gains to $1,439.05 a troy ounce.

On a generally light day for U.S. economic news, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey is released at 10:00 AM ET (14:00 GMT).

In commodities, crude oil jumped 1.3% to $56.03 a barrel as tensions between the U.S. and Iran heated up again. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, gained 0.2% to 96.650.