S&P 500, Nasdaq futures edge higher ahead of key inflation test

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 4:37 AM

(Reuters) – S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures inched up on Tuesday ahead of U.S. consumer prices data that could provide insight on whether inflation has eased enough for the Federal Reserve to lower borrowing costs in coming months.

The data, due at 8:30 am ET, is expected to show the consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.4% last month after gaining 0.3% in January.

In the 12 months through February, the CPI is expected to have increased 3.1%, according to a consensus analysts’ estimate in an LSEG poll.

Data showing signs of a robust economy slowed the stock market’s rally last month, as traders pushed back expectations on the timing of the first Fed rate cut to June from March.

“January’s lumpy CPI report has ensured that a lot of weight rests uncomfortably on this week’s report with regard to when the Fed will begin cutting base rates,” said Will Hobbs, head of UK multi-asset wealth, Barclays Private Bank & Wealth Management.

“The important point for investors is not when they start but how deep they and other central banks go. Will we return to the basement levels seen last economic cycle or is a new normal in store?”

Traders are seeing a 72% chance that the first rate cut hits in June, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

At 05:01 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 11 points, or 0.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 10.5 points, or 0.2%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose 68.5 points, or 0.38%.

Megacap growth firms advanced in premarket trading, led by AI darling Nvidia, up 1.5%.

Oracle jumped 13.6% after the database giant beat quarterly profit estimates. The company also said it is set to make a joint announcement with Nvidia.

Other chipmakers such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, that have struggled in the last few sessions after their fast-paced rally this year, added 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively.

Boeing shed 1.2% after a report said an audit by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) found dozens of issues in 737 MAX production.

New York Community Bancorp climbed 3.4% after the lender said it had closed the $1 billion capital infusion deal that was agreed last week with an investor group and plans to submit one-for-three reverse stock split of its common stock to shareholders.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Shristi Achar A; Editing by Rashmi Aich)