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Stock futures traded mixed Thursday morning as traders digested a key print on inflation, which showed consumer prices rose faster than expected as demand surged during the recovery.
Contracts on the S&P 500 edged lower. A day earlier, the index came within 1 point of its recent all-time high, but ultimately failed to set a new record. The Dow ticked up, while Nasdaq futures moved lower in the early morning session.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May consumer price index registered a faster than expected rise in inflation last month. Headline consumer prices were up by 5.0% over last year, topping Wall Street’s estimates for 4.7% and accelerating from April’s 4.2% rise. And excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the so-called core consumer price index was up 3.8%, also ramping up from the 3.0% increase from April.
Treasury yields moved higher following the report after dipping a day earlier following a more tepid than expected print on consumer price inflation out of China. After the U.S. CPI report on Thursday, the 10-year Treasury yield jumped more than 4 basis points to above 1.53%, reversing course after falling below 1.5% a day earlier.
The consumer price index serves as just one measure of price trends in the U.S. economy. However, it has taken on added significance as supply chain disruptions and shortages and surging demand during the recovery have begun to produce discernible price increases for consumers. And recently, both producer price indices and core personal consumption expenditures have come in stronger than expected. For investors, the stickiness of recent inflationary trends has been a point of considerable attention, given that longer-lasting price increases could spur a move by the Federal Reserve to tweak its ultra-accommodative monetary policies.
"In the past two months, everything the market priced in has essentially happened. COVID is effectively over here in the United States, we’re not getting anymore stimulus, the Fed is going to start tapering," Tom Essaye, president of Sevens Report Research, told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. "So the market and investors are sitting around and saying, what’s next? Well the what’s next is, is inflation temporary … and more importantly, how is the Fed going to handle tapering, and are they going to mess it up?"
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