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Stock futures are flat as investors await key inflation report

Commuters exit a Wall Street subway station near the New York Stock Exchange.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes were flat on Thursday as investors eyed a key upcoming inflation report.

Dow futures advanced about 48 points, while those tied to the S&P 500 sat just below the flatline. Nasdaq 100 contracts shed 0.3%.

UPS shares rose about 1% in premarket trading after an upgrade from JPMorgan. Shares of Boeing and Delta Air Lines were also higher in premarket trading.

Shares of Tesla and Apple were slightly lower in early trading.

Monthly consumer price index data will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect the May CPI report to show prices up 4.7% year over year after April’s increase of 4.2%. The core rate of inflation, excluding food and energy, is expected to jump 3.5% on an annual basis, the biggest jump in 28 years.

Fears of spiking inflation have weighed on the stock market in the last month, with investors worried the jump in prices will raise costs for companies, spark a move higher in interest rates and cause the Federal Reserve to remove its easy money policies.

U.S. markets continued to trade within a tight range on Wednesday, with all three major indexes ending the day within 0.5% of Tuesday’s closing levels. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all fell during regular trading, ending the session further away from their respective all-time highs.

The S&P 500 remains closest to its benchmark and is just 0.44% away from a new all-time high. The Dow and Nasdaq are roughly 2% away from records.

Video-game retailer and meme stock GameStop fell 7% in premarket trading even after the company tapped former Amazon executive Matt Furlong to be its next CEO and said that sales rose 25% last quarter. The company also said it may sell up to 5 million additional shares.

Investors are trying to gauge if higher price pressures are just temporary as the economy continues to rebound from the pandemic-induced recession.

For weeks investors have worried whether a rash of inflation could prompt the Federal Reserve to curb the pace of its asset purchases. Still, some say those fears are premature and that the central bank will give markets plenty of time before it makes any moves.

“We believe the easy money policies of the Fed will last for some time,” wrote Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

“We do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates this year or next but do think it is likely our central bankers start to hint that they are thinking about tapering their bond purchases, possibly as soon as this fall,” he added. “That means we continue to lean toward cyclical sectors that are sensitive to the ebb-and-flow of the economy.”

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