S&P 500 futures climbed Friday as traders await closely followed inflation data. They are also counting down to the end of what has been a strong first half of the year. Futures tied to the broad market index ticked up 0.3%, while Nasdaq-100 futures gained 0.4%. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 31 points, or 0.1%. Nike shares slipped more than 14% in the premarket after the athletic retailer cut its full-year guidanceFoot Locker shares declined 5.3% in sympathy. Those moves follow a muted day on Wall Street as investors brace for the release of May’s core personal consumption expenditures price index, known as the PCE, Friday morning. The Dow and S&P 500 each inched higher by around 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.3%. Considered to be the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the headline PCE reading is expected to be flat from April and higher by 2.6% compared to a year ago. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core PCE is forecast to come in 0.1% higher on the month and 2.6% on an annualized basis. Inflation stats have been considered paramount by markets participants as they try to guess when the Fed will begin cutting interest rates. Traders will also monitor releases on spending, personal income and consumer sentiment due throughout the morning. Those are some of the final potential market catalysts for the first six months of 2024, which officially concludes with Friday’s closing bell. It is a day full of noteworthy data, as it marks the end of the trading week, month, quarter and half year. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite has led the way over the first half, climbing around 19% as artificial intelligence craze captured investor excitement. The broad S&P 500 has jumped nearly 15%, while the blue-chip Dow has lagged with a gain of just under 4%. The AI theme has “taken over this entire year and really propelled the concentration in the overall market,” said Mike Dickson, head of research and quantitative strategies at Horizon Investments. “That’s resulted in a really strong year.” Part of the reason for the Dow’s underperformance stems from an idiosyncratic pullback in the second quarter. The Dow has slipped more than 1.6% during the period, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have added more than 4% and 9%, respectively, during the same timeframe. All three have gained ground in June. The Nasdaq once again led with a month-to-date rally of more than 6%. The S&P 500 and Dow gained more than 3% and 1%, respectively. For this week alone, the Nasdaq has advanced nearly 1%. The S&P 500 has ticked up around 0.3%, while the Dow is near its flatline. U.S. Treasury yields were slightly higher on Friday as investors awaited the latest personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation measure. At 7:12 a.m. ET, the yield on the 10-year Treasury was up by 2 basis points at 4.308%. The 2-year Treasury yield was last at 4.724% after rising by less than one basis point. Asia-Pacific markets climbed on Friday as upbeat economic data from Japan sent the country’s Topix stock index to a 34-year high, while investors awaited U.S. inflation readings due later in the day. The Japanese yen hit fresh 38-year lows against the greenback, weakening to as low as 161.27 against the dollar. Japan replaced Masato Kanda with Atsushi Mimura as its top currency diplomat, according to Nikkei. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rebounded 0.64% to close at 39.583.08, while the broad-based Topix rose 0.57% and hit a 34-year high at 2,809.63. Both the readings will provide Japan more room to tighten its monetary policy at a time when its currency has plummeted to multi-decade lows. South Korea saw its retail sales for May slip 0.2% year on year, a softer fall compared to April’s revised figure of a 0.8% drop. This is the first time since July 2023 that South Korea has recorded two straight months of declines. South Korea’s Kospi inched up 0.49% to 2,797.82, and the small-cap Kosdaq closed 0.21% higher at 840.44. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.36% in its final hour, while mainland China’s CSI 300 rebounded off a four-month low to gain 0.22% and finished at 3,461.66. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1%, paring gains and ending at 7,767.5. Oil prices rose in early Asian trading hours on Friday, setting up a third straight weekly jump, as concerns about supply problems from escalating geopolitical tensions and weather-related disruptions offset signs of weak demand. Brent crude futures for August settlement, which expire on Friday, rose 15 cents, or 0.2% to $86.54 a barrel by 0020 GMT. The Brent contract for September was also up 0.2% at $85.44 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for August delivery rose 24 cents, or 0.3%, to $81.98 a barrel. Gold prices were little changed on Friday but were poised for a third straight quarterly rise, while investors waited for U.S. inflation data for fresh clues on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate stance. Spot gold was nearly unchanged to $2,328.42 per ounce. Prices have gained about 4% for the quarter. U.S. gold futures edged 0.1% higher at $2,338.80.