U.S. equity futures traded cautiously higher Thursday morning a day after the Federal Reserve chairman said the U.S. central bank wants to avoid causing a recession, but one is possible as it raises interest rates to cool surging inflation.

The Fed doesn’t want to "provoke a recession," but one is possible due to rate hikes to cool inflation that is running at a four-decade high, chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday, talking to members of Congress.

Powell returns to Capitol Hill to testify before the House Financial Services Committee as part of his regular, semi-annual update on monetary policy.

The Fed will also publish the results of its annual stress tests of the nation's largest banks, which examines how their portfolios would perform under a hypothetical market downturn.

Today's will be headlined by weekly jobless claims.

Thursday's earnings agenda will include FedEx, Darden Restauants and Rite Aid.

Oil prices fell sharply for a second day, suggesting traders anticipate weaker demand as economic activity cools.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 2.9%, to $103 a barrel. Brent crude futures dropped 2.5%, to $108 a barrel.

Both benchmarks tumbled around 3% on Wednesday to hit their lowest levels since mid-May.

Bitcoin traded back above $20,000.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1% and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6%.

Ticker Security Last Change Change % I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 30483.13 -47.12 -0.15% SP500 S&P 500 3759.89 -4.90 -0.13% I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 11053.079775 -16.22 -0.15%

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.1% after swinging between a gain of 1%...

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