U.S. stock index futures gained on Thursday after another report pointed to cooling inflation. S&P 500 futures added 0.2% and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.1%. Nasdaq-100 futures gained 0.2%. The March producer prices index, a measure of prices paid by companies and often a leading indicator of consumer inflation, declined by 0.5% month over month versus expectations for prices to be flat. Excluding food and energy, the core wholesale prices reading shed 0.1% month over month, much better than the 0.2% increase expected by economists polled by Dow Jones. Wednesday’s release of March’s consumer price index report showed headline inflation pressures slowed last month. The CPI advanced just 0.1% month over month in March, less than the 0.1% estimate of economists. Consumer prices grew 5% on an annual basis, the smallest increase in nearly two years. Some optimism about the upcoming earnings reporting season, which begins this week, also gave markets a boost Thursday morning. Delta Air Lines shares climbed 2% in the premarket after the airline issued upbeat second-quarter guidance, projecting “record advance bookings for the summer,” even as it reported a wider-than-expected loss for the first quarter. But gains were still pretty muted as investors worry that a recession is on the horizon. Stocks ended Wednesday’s session on a down note. The S&P 500 closed 0.41% lower, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.85%. The Dow snapped a four-day winning streak, ending the day down 38.29 points, or 0.11%. Traders’ sentiment turned in the afternoon following the release of minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting. In particular, the Fed expects the recent banking crisis to cause a mild recession later this year. “Wall Street went from focusing on a mostly cooler-than-expected inflation report to the Fed Minutes that prompted recession worries as further banking turmoil could be right around the corner as bank earnings near,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. Asia-Pacific markets were mostly lower on Thursday after minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed that Fed officials see the U.S. economy entering a recession in the wake of the banking crisis. Stocks on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.15%, while the Hang Seng Tech index slid 0.66%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.27% to end the day at 3,318.36 and the Shenzhen Component shed 1.21% to close at 11,739.84 as investors digested a surprise jump in trade data. South Korea’s Kospi was 0.43% higher to end 2,561.66, and the Kosdaq ended 0.41% up at 894.25. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.27% to close at 7,324.1. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.26%, to end at 28,156.97 while the Topix also gained marginally to close at 2,007.93. Oil prices retreated on Thursday after rising for two sessions, with investors still showing lingering concern over a possible U.S. recession and weaker oil demand. Brent crude fell 19 cents, or 0.2%, to $87.14 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) slid 11 cents, or 0.1%, to $83.15. Gold prices rose for a third consecutive session on Thursday, as milder-than-expected U.S. inflation data prompted bets that the Federal Reserve might raise rates just once more before pausing. Spot gold was up 0.6% at $2,026.58 per ounce. U.S. gold futures rose 0.8% to $2,040.90. Gold prices rose over 1% on Wednesday after data showed the U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% last month, compared with expectations of a 0.2% increase, after advancing 0.4% in February.
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