Stock futures shot higher on Wednesday ahead of data that could show U.S. inflation has started to cool from four-decade highs, while news of easing COVID cases in China also spelled some relief for investors.
How are stock-index futures trading?
S&P 500 futures
rose 41 points, or 1%, to 4,038
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
climbed 271 points, or 0.8%, to 32,359
jumped 150 points, or 1.2%, to 12,499.
On Tuesday, the Dow industrials
fell 0.3% to close at 32,160.74, a fourth straight day of losses that marked its largest four-day percentage decline since the stretch ending October 29, 2020. The S&P 500
snapped a three-day losing streak with a gain of 0.2%, to finish at 4,001.05. Breaking a similar streak, the Nasdaq Composite
advanced 1% to 11,737.67.
Monday’s selloff knocked 654 points off the Dow, while the S&P 500 declined 3.2%, closing below the 4,000 to the lowest since March 31, 2021. The Nasdaq sank 4.3% to its lowest finish since November 2020.
What’s driving markets?
Investors are waiting for the hottest data point of the week — April consumer prices, which are expected to rise 8.1% annually from 8.6% the previous month, according to a survey of economists by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.
It would mark the first time in five months the index hasn’t climbed at the fastest rate in 40 years. Core prices are due to rise 0.4% from a 0.3% gain in March, when the data is released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
The data could be “make or break” for what has been volatile stock markets, Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, told clients in a note.
A soft inflation read would bring relief on the view the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation are working and don’t need to get more aggressive, she said.
“In which case, a couple of 50-bp hikes and the announced balance sheet reduction should suffice to deal with inflation and cool the hawkish Fed expectations,” said Ozkardeskaya.
“If however, inflation hasn’t pulled lower as expected — and worse, if we see a higher figure than last month print, we would see another big wave of selloff across all assets, as a persistent rise in inflation from the actual levels would get investors to bet for a 75-bp hike from the Fed in a next meeting,” said the analyst.
The Federal Budget for April is due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
Some positive sentiment could also be fueled by reports that COVID cases were easing in Beijing and Shanghai, driving hopes for an easing of restrictions and pressure on the global economy. Optimism that that could relay to improved demand drove West Texas Intermediate crude
to a gain of more than 3% to $102.96 a barrel, with Brent crude
up over 3% to $105.90 a barrel.
Separately, data showed China’s consumer-price index rose 2.1% in April from a year earlier, picking up from March’s 1.5% increase.
The U.S. dollar
was weaker, notably against the euro
after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the first interest rate increase in the bloc could come weeks after the end of the central bank’s bond-buying program.