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Stock market today: Wall Street inches forward ahead of US report on consumer prices

Mar 12, 2024, 12:32 AM | Updated: 4:54 am

Wall Street was mixed in early trading Tuesday ahead of a report on inflation in the U.S. that could sway the Federal Reserve’s timing on cutting interest rates.

Futures for the S&P 500 gained 0.2% before the bell, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down less than 0.1%

Tuesday’s report on prices Americans pay could show inflation remained at 3.1% in February, if economists’ forecasts are correct.

A month ago, a hotter-than-expected report on inflation at the consumer level sent financial markets spinning.

But the trend for inflation has been mostly downward, cooling toward the Fed’s 2% target from its peak above 9%. Fed Chair Jerome Powell Jerome Powell said last week the Fed is “not far” from getting enough confidence about inflation to begin cutting rates. Cuts to the Fed’s main interest rate, which is at its highest level since 2001, would relax pressure on the economy and financial system, while goosing investment prices.

The general expectation among traders is that the Fed will begin cutting rates in June, and prices for equities have been buoyed by those expectations as well as signals that the economy remains remarkably resilient.

Shares of business software company Oracle jumped more than 13% in off-hours trading after it beat analyst profit targets on a strong quarter of growth from its cloud segment.

Shares of New York Community Bank got a small boost after the troubled bank said it closed on its $1 billion lifeline from investors. Shares in the bank rose 4% to $3.25 on Tuesday. The bank has lost a third of its value this month after it reported weakness in commercial real estate and growing pains resulting from its buyout of the distressed Signature Bank a year ago for $2.7 billion.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX picked up 0.4% and Britain’s FTSE 100 rallied 0.8%. The CAC 40 in Paris was effectively unchanged.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost less than 0.1% to 38,797.51, retreating further from its recent record highs as expectations build that the central bank will raise its negative benchmark interest rate next month.

That speculation has pushed the Japanese yen higher against the U.S. dollar. Early Tuesday, the dollar was trading at 147.35 yen, up from 146.95 yen. Recently the dollar was trading at about 150 yen.

Chinese markets were mixed, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 3.1% at 17,093.50, led by property developers and technology companies.

The Shanghai Composite index retreated, losing 0.4% to 3,055.94.

Elsewhere in Asia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 7,712.50. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.8% to 2,681.81.

After rallying to a record above $72,700 on Monday, Bitcoin was trading at about $71,886 early Tuesday. Bitcoin fell below $17,000 at the start of last year.

In other trading early Tuesday, U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 22 cents at $78.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 8 cents to $77.93 per barrel on Monday.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 32 cents to $82.53 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 147.40 Japanese yen, while the euro rose to $1.0934 from $1.0925.

On Monday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% but remained near its all-time high set Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.4%.

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