Futures ease on rate-cut jitters ahead of inflation data, Fed meet

(Reuters) -Wall Street was set to open lower on Tuesday, with futures tracking all three major indexes in the red as investors were cautious ahead of crucial inflation data and a policy announcement from the Federal Reserve expected this week.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted record closing highs on Monday in a choppy session, boosted by shares of Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) after its 10-for-one stock split.

Markets are readying for Wednesday’s release of the Consumer Price Index report for May and the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting.

“There’s an abnormal amount of anxiety around these numbers and around the Fed meeting, particularly after the jobs report on Friday,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman at Great Hill Capital LLC.

The central bank is not expected to change rates but will release its updated economic projections and “dot plot”, which shows where policymakers expect interest rates to stand over the next few years and longer term.

The CPI numbers and the Fed’s projections will be closely scrutinized as recent reports have given conflicting signals on the economy’s underlying health.

“If they (Fed policymakers) take down growth a bit, then they will have cover to keep two dots on the dot plot, which would be very bullish for markets. So this trepidation you’re seeing is a fear of what if that doesn’t happen,” Hayes said.

Markets are pricing in a nearly 53% chance of the Fed’s first rate cut happening in September, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool. Rate futures also imply just one cut this year, compared to two before Friday’s bumper Nonfarm Payrolls data.

Meanwhile, Nvidia ticked 0.3% lower in premarket trading, while shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) lost 0.2% after investors were unimpressed by the long-awaited AI strategy presented at its developer conference on Monday.

Other rate-sensitive megacap stocks slipped, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) and (NASDAQ:AMZN) falling between 0.2% and 0.3%.

On the day, a National Federation of Independent Business survey showed small-business confidence and hiring plans increased to their highest levels of the year in May, but the upcoming U.S. presidential election drove the Uncertainty Index to a nearly four-year high.

At 8:16 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 121 points, or 0.31%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 12 points, or 0.22%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 44 points, or 0.23%.

Shares of prison operator CoreCivic (NYSE:CXW) and Target Hospitality (NASDAQ:TH) slumped 34.3% and 18.2%, respectively, after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it would close a Texas detention center.

Cryptocurrency-linked stocks slipped as bitcoin slid 3.7%, with bitcoin miners Riot Platforms (NASDAQ:RIOT) and Marathon Digital (NASDAQ:MARA) and crypto exchange Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) falling between 2.5% and 3.5%.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) gained 1.3% after the automaker announced a $6 billion share buyback plan.

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY)’s shares rose 2.1% after its Alzheimer’s drug donanemab received unanimous backing from a U.S. FDA panel.

Sage Therapeutics jumped 2.4% after its experimental drug met the main goal of a mid-stage study in patients with Huntington’s disease.

Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF) dropped 3.0% after brokerage J.P.Morgan downgraded the steel stock to “neutral” from “overweight”.

Source: Economy -

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