U.S. stock market index futures ticked higher Tuesday morning as investors looked ahead to key inflation data that may signal what the Federal Reserve will do at its March meeting. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 72 points, or 0.21%. S&P 500 futures advanced 0.31%, and Nasdaq-100 futures climbed 0.37%. Stocks are coming off a positive session, with all three major indexes ending Monday’s session up more than 1%. That marked a turn from last week, when the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 posted their worst weekly performances since December. Investors were largely positioning ahead of the consumer price index reading for January set to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday. The CPI is a gauge of inflation that tracks changes in prices across a broad basket of items. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect CPI rose 0.4% from December, and climbed 6.2% compared to the prior year. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, is expected to rise 0.3% from the prior month and 5.5% on the year. “All eyes are laser-focused on Tuesday’s CPI report to gauge the market’s likely flight course for the balance of Q1 and beyond,” said Greg Bassuk, CEO at AXS Investments. CPI declined 0.1% in December on a monthly basis, its biggest drop since 2020. It was a welcome sign to investors that inflation cooled and ignited hopes that the Federal Reserve would consider pausing its interest rate hikes. Investors will be watching Tuesday’s reading for the same signs, Bassuk said. Market observers expect the S&P 500 could swing in either direction following the release of the data. “Tuesday’s CPI report, if fierier than expected, could jolt investors and the equity markets, which have been on a growth tear in 2023, sparked by hopes of declining inflation and a more dovish Fed policy on interest rates,” he said. “A reverse course from the recent months of disinflation would reignite investor concerns that high inflation and Fed rate hikes will define the markets in 2023 as they did last year.” Beyond the CPI, investors will also be watching for earnings from Restaurant Brands International and Airbnb for insights into the health of the consumer. Shares of Coca-Cola rose after the company beat Wall Street expectations for fourth-quarter revenue. Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Tuesday as Japan reportedly announced its nomination of Kazuo Ueda as the new Bank of Japan governor, according to Reuters. He is set to succeed incumbent head Haruhiko Kuroda, if confirmed by the country’s parliament. Following the announcement, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.64% to close at 27,602.77 and the Topix climbed 0.78% to end the day at 1,993.09, while the Japanese yen strengthened to 131.90 against the U.S. dollar. The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond remained at the upper ceiling of the central bank’s tolerance range of 0.5%. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.5% up at 2,466.86, while the Kosdaq also gained 0.75% to end at 778.45. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.18% to close the day at 7430.9 as investors digested the results of National Australia Bank’s business confidence survey. The Hang Seng index erased earlier gains and traded 0.15% lower in its final hour of trade, and the Hang Seng Tech index also fell 0.93%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite climbed 0.28% to close at 3293.28 and the Shenzhen Component dropped 0.15% to end at 12,094.94. Oil prices dipped on Tuesday after the U.S. government said it would release more crude from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while traders look out for U.S. inflation data for further queues. Brent crude futures fell 80 cents, or 0.9%, to $85.81 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures fell $1.05, or 1.3%, to $79.09 per barrel. Both benchmarks are on track for their biggest daily percentage drop since Feb. 3. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said it would sell 26 million barrels of oil from the SPR, which is already at its lowest level since 1983. Gold prices edged higher on Tuesday as the dollar slipped, with investors positioning for a U.S. inflation report that could influence the Federal Reserve’s interest rate strategy. Spot gold was up 0.5% at $1,861.91 per ounce after falling to its lowest since early January in the previous session. U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,870.50.