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US pre-open: Futures mixed ahead of CPI reading

(Sharecast News) - Wall Street futures were mixed ahead of the bell on Thursday as market participants held their breath in anticipation for some key inflation data due out later in the day. As of 1220 GMT, Dow Jones futures were down 0.08%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures had the indices opening 0.08% and 0.35% higher, respectively.

The Dow closed 170.57 points higher on Wednesday, finishing with decent gains despite a tentative star.

Thursday's primary focus will be December's all-important consumer price index report, due out at 1330 GMT, with economists expecting to see CPI rise 0.2% in December and 3.2% for the year as a whole. The key report will be central to market movements going forward and could provide investors with some clues as to just what the Federal Reserve's tightening measures have done to curb prices. It will also likely test the market's expectations for as many as six rate cuts in 2024, versus the central bank's prediction for just three cuts.

Trade Nation's David Morrison said: "The S&P 500 is testing resistance around the 4,800 area and is within spitting distance of its record intra-day high of 4,818 which was hit at the beginning of January 2022. If it can top this level, then it will join the Dow and the Nasdaq-100 in making fresh record highs in the last fortnight. While it has done a good job in making these gains without an obvious catalyst, it could be that today's CPI release is the trigger for a fresh record.

"That could be the result if the inflation data undershoot market expectations. This remains a possibility given the consensus forecast is that December's headline CPI will show a slight increase, and come in at +3.2% year-on-year, up from the prior reading of +3.1%. Conversely, if CPI comes in above expectations, it seems likely that we'll get a pull-back in stock indices, at least as an initial reaction, as this will mean it's less likely that the US Federal Reserve will want to cut rates at its meeting in March."

Also drawing an amount of investor attention, the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved changes to its rules, allowing bitcoin exchange-traded funds. The hotly-anticipated move will result in an expansion of access to the benchmark cryptocurrency. Crypto stocks jumped on the back of the news.

On the macro front, December's CPI report will be published at 1330 GMT, as will jobless claims data for the week ended 5 January, while the Federal Government's monthly budget statement will be released at 1900 GMT.

No major corporate earnings were slated for release on Thursday but investors will be looking ahead to the beginning of earnings season on Friday, with the likes of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase both set to report their latest quarterly figures tomorrow.

Reporting by Iain Gilbert at Sharecast.com

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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