U.S. stock market index futures were slightly higher Monday as traders tried to regain their footing following the S&P 500′s and Nasdaq Composite’s worst weekly performances in nearly two months. S&P 500 futures rose 0.29%. Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 43 points, or 0.13%, while Nasdaq-100 futures climbed 0.59%. All three major indexes ended the week on a downturn. The Dow ended the week down 0.17%. The S&P 500 fell 1.11%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 2.41%, marking their biggest weekly losses since December. These losses came after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that there is still a long way to go in the fight against inflation. Powell also noted that interest rates could rise more than markets anticipate if inflation numbers do not abate, reversing some of the prior market optimism that rate hikes would soon ease. “The risk, however, is that premature easing in financial conditions, and in turn, a pick up in growth expectations, may be counterproductive from an inflation fighting point of view. Indeed, post the hot January payrolls report, a number of Fed speakers this week have talked up rates expectations, pushing back on Powell’s dovish talk.” Barclays analyst Emmanuel Cau wrote in a Friday note. “As a result, the disconnect between the Fed’s own rates forecasts and market pricing has noticeably narrowed, which has hurt US equities.” Investors are watching out for the consumer price index numbers on Tuesday for insight into the pace of inflation, as well as retail sales data. The final leg of earnings season also continues next week, with Coca-Cola, Marriott, Cisco, Marathon and Paramount set to report. Stocks in Asia-Pacific mostly fell on Monday as investors look ahead to a week of crucial economic data releases, including the U.S. consumer price index that will determine the Federal Reserve’s path forward. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.88% lower to 27,427.92 and the Topix was down 0.47% at 1,977.67 as the Japanese yen continued to remain volatile after a report that Japan will nominate Kazuo Ueda as its next central bank governor. The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond stood at 0.5%, hovering around the BOJ’s upper ceiling of its tolerance range. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.69% to end its session at 2452.7, while the Kosdaq climbed marginally, ending the day at 772.55. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell fractionally while the Hang Seng Tech index rose 0.5%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.72% to 3,284.16 and the Shenzhen Component gained 1.14% to 12,113.6. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% to close the session at 7,417.8, and the S&P/NZX 50 finished 0.85% lower at 12,075.18 as New Zealand braced for further impact from tropical cyclone Gabrielle. Oil prices slumped on Monday as investors focused on short-term demand concerns ahead of key U.S. inflation data. Brent crude futures fell $1.15, or 1.3%, to $85.24 a barrel after a 2.2% gain on Friday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down $1.12, or 1.4%, at $78.60 after a 2.1% gain in the previous session. Gold prices edged lower on Monday on a firmer dollar as investors squared positions before U.S. inflation data that could influence the Federal Reserve’s rate-hike roadmap. Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,858.30 per ounce. U.S. gold futures eased 0.26% to $1,869.60. Bullion is often seen as an inflation hedge, but the opportunity cost of holding it is higher when interest rates are raised to combat inflation.
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