Stock futures rose slightly on Monday as Wall Street kicked off the second quarter following a strong start to the year, and traders weighed fresh U.S. inflation data. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 15 points, or less than 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures gained 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, released Friday during the market closure for Good Friday, showed inflation rose 2.8% in February, which is in line with expectations. The inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve also rose 0.3% from a month ago, the Commerce Department said. “This showcases progress on inflation is slow-moving and provides one more bullet in the bandolier of those who are calling the bluff on the Fed’s next rate cut,” said Giuseppe Sette, Toggle AI’s co-founder and president. “As a reminder, the Fed keeps rates consistently higher than inflation, except when they foresee a slowdown.” The major averages are coming off a winning first quarter. The S&P 500 jumped 10.2% for its best first-quarter performance since 2019, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 5.6%. The Nasdaq Composite popped 9.1%. Markets also wrapped up a winning March and their fifth consecutive positive month, with the S&P and Dow rising 3.1% and 2.1%, respectively. The Nasdaq edged up 1.8% for the month. Those monthly and quarterly gains brought the Dow to within striking distance of 40,000. The 30-stock Dow closed Thursday’s session at 39,807.37. Ongoing bets on artificial intelligence stocks and tailwinds from Nvidia have continued powering the market higher in the new year after a strong 2023. That comes alongside the expectation for the start of a rate-cutting cycle from the Federal Reserve later this year, with markets pricing in a cut as soon as June. According to Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group, this rally could be poised to continue. He noted that the S&P finished the year higher than 10 out of the 11 previous times it notched a gain of 10% or more in the first quarter. Wall Street is readying for a busy week of economic data that kicks off Monday, with construction spending for February and ISM manufacturing data for March due Monday. The keynote March jobs report is on deck for Friday. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose slightly Monday, while the 2-year yield was marginally lower, as investors kicked off the second quarter and weighed the latest U.S. inflation data. The benchmark rate was trading around 4.208% at 6:34 a.m. ET. The yield on the 2-year Treasury note was 2 basis points lower at 4.599%. China stocks rose Monday as investors assessed the country’s business activity, while Japan stocks closed lower as business optimism fell. China’s CSI 300 index gained about 1.64% after the reading, closing at 3,595.65. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.4% to close at 39,803.09, well below the 40,000 mark. The broad-based Topix fell 1.71% to 2,721.22. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.04% to 2,747.86, and the small cap Kosdaq gained 0.77% to close at 912.45. Australian and Hong Kong markets are closed for Easter Monday. Oil prices edged down slightly on Monday, holding on to most of their recent gains amid expectations of tighter supply from OPEC+ cuts, attacks on Russian refineries and upbeat Chinese manufacturing data. Brent crude fell 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $86.83 a barrel by 0017 GMT after rising 2.4% last week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $83.06 a barrel, down 11 cents, or 0.1%, following a 3.2% gain last week. Trade volumes are expected to be thin on Monday as several countries are closed for Easter holiday. Gold prices extended their rally and scaled to another record high Monday, propelled by U.S. interest rate cut expectations and the metal’s appeal as a safe haven asset. Spot gold added 0.6% to trade at $2,245.79 per ounce. U.S. gold futures rose more than 1% to trade at $2,266.39 per ounce. “I think it’s a really exciting moment in gold,” said Joseph Cavatoni, market strategist at the World Gold Council, told CNBC on Monday. “What’s really driving it is, I think, many market speculators really getting that confidence and comfort [in] the Fed cuts,” he said.