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Futures climb as China eases COVID curbs

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 7, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday after China further relaxed its COVID-19 curbs, fuelling hopes of a recovery in the world’s second largest economy.

China said it would stop requiring inbound travelers to go into quarantine starting Jan. 8, a major step in reopening its borders, adding that it would also downgrade the seriousness of COVID as it has become less virulent.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese firms such as JD.Com Inc , Alibaba Group Holding , Pinduoduo Inc (PDD.O) climbed between 2.5% and 3% in premarket trading.

With a handful of trading sessions left this year, investors are hoping for a so-called “Santa rally” at the end of what has been a largely disappointing month for U.S. equities.

The benchmark S&P 500 (.SPX) and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (.IXIC) have lost 5.8% and 8.5%, respectively, so far in December and are on track for their biggest yearly loss since the financial crisis of 2008 on fears that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy tightening could tip the U.S. economy into a recession.

Economic data so far has offered little hope that the Fed could hit the brakes on its interest rate hikes, with a report last week showing inflation has cooled further but not enough to discourage the U.S. central bank from driving rates to higher levels next year.

Money markets are pricing in 63% odds of a 25-basis-point interest rate hike at the Fed’s next meeting in February and see rates peaking at 4.93% in May 2023. .

Trading volumes remain thin as investors return from a long weekend, while the economic data schedule is also light this week with some home sales and jobs reports on tap.

At 6:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 208 points, or 0.62%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 25 points, or 0.65%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 62.5 points, or 0.56%.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA.O) fell 2.0% premarket after Reuters reported the electric vehicle maker plans to run a reduced production schedule at its Shanghai plant in January.

Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) dipped 3% after facing flight cancellations and delays a day after Christmas.