Investors Eye Inflation Data, Futures Inch Back

U.S. stock futures were slightly negative Wednesday morning as investors awaited the release of the consumer price index for further insight into inflation.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials faltered 26 points, or 0.1%, to 34,970.

Futures for the S&P 500 were unchanged at 4,513.75.

Futures for the NASDAQ eked up 7.25 points, or 0.1%, to 15,507.25.

American Airlines Group and Spirit Airlines shares dropped more than 3% each in pre-market trading Wednesday after the two carriers warned higher costs will hurt their profits.

American said it expects adjusted earnings per share to come in between 20 cents and 30 cents in the third quarter, down from a previous forecast of as much as 95 cents a share, citing more expensive fuel and a new pilot labor deal. The carrier halved its operating margin from a forecast earlier this summer to 4% to 5%.

Spirit Airlines expects negative margins of as much as 15.5% in the three months ending Sept. 30, down from an earlier estimate of -5.5% to -7.5%. The budget airline also cut its revenue forecast for the third quarter.

Other airline stocks also declined. United Airlines and Southwest Airlines were each down by more than 2%.

Wall Street’s focus is now turning toward the August CPI report, due Wednesday morning.

Economists are estimating a 3.6% year-over-year and a 0.6% monthly rise in inflation, according to Dow Jones. This would mark an increase from the prior month’s respective readings of 3.2% and 0.2%. Core CPI, which omits food and energy costs due to volatility, is forecasted to have risen 4.3% from a year ago, compared to a 4.7% annual gain in July. The monthly core increase is projected at 0.2%.

Wall Street has mostly priced in a pause in rate hikes at the Fed’s next meeting. Fed funds futures pricing data as of Wednesday morning indicate a 93% probability of rates remaining the same.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2% Wednesday, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng fell 0.1%.

Oil prices gained 38 cents to $89.22 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices slipped $1.70 to $1,933.40 U.S. an ounce.

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