July 21, 2024

US futures seesaw as inflation jumps more than expected

US stock futures seesawed around the flatline Thursday morning as a reading on December inflation came in slightly hotter than economists had expected, raising new questions about the Federal Reserve’s path on interest rates.

S&P 500 (^GSPC) futures were down about 0.1% after the benchmark ended Wednesday at its highest close since January 2022, just short of notching a new record. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) wavered around the flatline, while those on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) also fell around 0.1%.

Stocks have struggled this week as investors counted down to the US consumer inflation reading for December. That reading showed a slightly bigger jump than expected, as prices ticked up 0.3% month over month and 3.4% year over year. On a “core” basis, inflation rose 3.9% over the past year.

The print was seen as critical for traders who have been increasingly pricing in the odds of a “soft landing” — where inflation retreats to 2% without an economic downturn — since the last CPI report.

Meanwhile, crypto stocks got a boost after the SEC gave regulatory approval for US spot bitcoin ETFs to begin trading on Thursday, seen as a game-changer for the sector. Shares in exchange Coinbase (COIN) and miner Marathon Digital (MARA) were among those moving higher in premarket trading.

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) climbed above $47,000 to trade at its highest levels since March 2022, while rival ether (ETH-USD) jumped amid bets the second-biggest token is next to get the ETF green light.

Ahead of its quarterly financial update on Friday, Citigroup (C) said it will take more than $3 billion in one-time reserves and expenses in the results. The fourth-quarter earnings season is crucial for stocks, given their dismal performance this year so far.

Live1 update

  • Inflation ticks higher than expected in December

    Thursday’s highly anticipated inflation report showed that consumer prices increased slightly more than expected in November.

    A quick look at the numbers:

    • Headline CPI, month over month: 0.3% increase vs. 0.2% expected

    • Headline CPI, year over year: 3.4% vs. 3.2% expected

    • “Core” CPI, year over year: 3.9% vs. 3.8% expected

    Yahoo Finance’s Josh Schafer has all the details here.

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