U.S. stocks opened largely unchanged as investors awaited the release of the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI). They are looking to the key U.S. inflation data for clues about the monetary policy outlook. Inflation is seen as a key factor influencing the Federal Reserve’s decision about when to scale back its monetary stimulus.
The August CPI, due out at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT), is in focus, with the month’s consumer prices expected to have risen by 5.3% year-on-year. That was a slight slowdown from July’s rise of 5.4%, which matched the strongest jump since August 2008.
The Dow futures contract gained 15 points, or 0.1% at 7 AM ET (1100 GMT). The S&P 500 futures traded 5 points, or 0.1% higher. The Nasdaq 100 futures added just 1 point, less than 0.1%.
For the first time in six sessions on Monday, the broad-based S&P 500 and the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher. This came after news that the 7-day average of Covid-19 cases fell to 136,000 through Friday. This decline was down from 157,000 new cases at the end of August.
S&P, Dow Futures Up ahead of CPI
On Tuesday, S&P and Dow futures were higher but gains were muted in the run-up to CPI data, which could affect the monetary policy. The energy and financial sectors helped the indices end their five days of losses after a volatile session on Monday.
The August CPI is expected to show if a spike in inflation this year is transitory like what the Federal Reserve had said. The reading is likely to be steady from July, according to a poll.
At 06:15 am ET, the U.S. S&P 500 E-minis rose 5 points, or 0.11%. Dow E-minis gained 25 points, or 0.07%, while Nasdaq 100 E-minis added 5 points, or 0.03%.
Investors also focus on the possible passage of U.S. President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget package. It is expected to include a proposed corporate tax rate hike from 21% to 26.5%.
Amazon Hourly Pay Increases to Over $18
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) hiked its average starting wage to $18 per hour. The company plans to hire more than 125,000 warehouse and transportation workers in the United States, reports said. It also said it would pay a sign-on bonus of $3,000 in some locations and the hourly wage could go up to $22.50.