Stock futures are lower ahead of key inflation data

U.S. equity futures nudged lower early Wednesday as investors await key data that will be the next big indicator of how much rising price pressures are accelerating.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dipped 70 points. S&P 500 futures fell 11 points and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 57 points.

In regular trading Tuesday, the Dow lost about 0.3% to close at 36,319.98. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, snapping an eight-day win streak, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.6%.

Investors are holding their breath for the latest consumer price index reading, which the Labor Department will report Wednesday before the bell. Economists expect a 0.6% increase, or a year-over-year gain of nearly 6%, which would be the most in 30 years. They expect core CPI, which excludes food and energy, to have risen 0.4%, or 4.3% year-over-year.

With Thursday a government holiday due to the Veterans Day observance, the department also will release its weekly jobless claims count a day earlier than usual. The Dow Jones estimate is for 265,000 first-time filings for unemployment insurance, which would mark a fresh pandemic-era low.

Tesla shares ended nearly 12% lower in Tuesday trading, extending Monday losses.

“The weakness in Tesla (which is largely technical, not fundamental) is also weighing on the consumer discretionary sector within the S&P 500 today, and the October PPI may also be doing so as business input prices continue to rise,” Goldman Sachs’ Jeff Currie said in a note Tuesday. “The prospect of Covid transforming from pandemic to endemic, and the potential for supply chain congestion to moderate are all likely to continue to drive growth, albeit more slowly,” Currie added.

On Tuesday morning, the Labor Department reported a 0.6% increase in the October producer price index, which is in line with the Dow Jones consensus estimate. Wholesale prices jumped 8.6% in October from a year ago, however, the hottest annual pace on record in almost 11 years.

“Investor worries came to the fore again today,” Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, told CNBC. “The inflation narrative is still out there and needs to be resolved. We think investors will see inflation abate in the coming months as the Fed remains accommodative, people come back into the workforce and consumers shift from buying goods to services… and we expect that will pull the market higher as we move toward the end of the year.”

Weekly jobless claims and mortgage applications to purchase a home are also due out Wednesday.

Earnings season continues to be strong, with most of the S&P 500 companies who have already reported beating estimates, according to FactSet. Disney, Affirm, Bumble and The Honest Company are all scheduled to report Wednesday after the bell.

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