Futures flat with inflation data, earnings in focus

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday, as investors prepared for a busy week that will see the release of a key inflation report, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony and the start of the second-quarter earnings season.

Expectations for interest rate cuts as early as September received a further boost after Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report showed U.S. job growth slowed in June, the latest data to point to labor market weakness.

Investors, however, are focused on every potential clue to get a clearer picture of the Fed’s monetary policy for the year.

Traders now see a 70% chance of a 25 basis point cut at the Fed’s September meeting, up from 60% a week ago, while expecting an overall cut of about 50 bps for the year, according to CME FedWatch data.

On the data front, Thursday’s release of June’s consumer price index data will be closely watched for more indications on whether price pressures are easing.

On a monthly basis, U.S. headline inflation is expected to rise slightly by 0.1% from a flat reading the month prior, while core inflation is expected to rise 0.2%.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq continued to rally on Friday, closing at all-time highs as megacap tech stocks such as Meta Platforms and Microsoft touched record highs.

The Windows software maker, Apple and Alphabet rose between 0.2% and 0.4% in premarket trading, while Nvidia slipped 0.5%.

Major banks including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo kick off the second-quarter corporate earnings season on July 12.

Shares of JPMorgan slipped 0.4% premarket after broad losses saw the S&P 500 banks index end Friday’s session down 1.6%.

Investors are focusing on the earnings season to see if a stratospheric jump in shares of just a handful of megacap stocks, such as Nvidia, can justify their pricey valuations.

Markets will also closely watch Powell’s semi-annual testimony before both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee on July 9 and 10, respectively, as well as comments from several other Fed officials throughout the week.

Producer price index data for June and the University of Michigan’s consumer survey data is also scheduled for release on Friday.

At 5:57 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.02%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 2.25 points, or 0.04%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 6.75 points, or 0.03%.

Paramount Global rose 3.9% after Sunday’s announcement that the company would merge with Skydance Media, which has offered $4.5 billion in cash or stock and an extra $1.5 billion to shore up Paramount’s balance sheet.

Planemaker Boeing gained 0.6% after the company agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge and pay a fine of $243.6 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department investigation into two 737 MAX fatal crashes.

(Reporting by Lisa Mattackal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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