U.S. stock indexes started the week mostly positively but with a degree of caution. This was in anticipation of crucial economic events: the release of key inflation data and the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate decision later in the week. Last Friday’s better-than-expected jobs report had boosted the stock market, but investors were now closely watching the Federal Reserve’s actions and the upcoming inflation figures.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average was gaining 94 points, or 0.3%.
- The S&P 500 was rising 1 point, leaving it nearly flat.
- The Nasdaq Composite was falling 56 points, or 0.4%.
Economists predict that the November consumer prices data, scheduled for release on Tuesday, will likely reveal moderate headline inflation but a more robust core reading, excluding food and energy prices. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve, led by Chair Jerome Powell, is expected to announce the outcome of its two-day policy meeting. Most experts anticipate that the central bank will keep its benchmark policy rates unchanged from 5.25% to 5.5%.
Market strategists believe that Tuesday’s inflation data if it aligns with expectations, might not significantly alter the message Powell will convey during Wednesday’s meeting. However, it could support the notion that the first interest-rate cut by the Fed might not happen until June, as Bank of America economists Stephen Juneau and Michael Gapen suggested. The market had been pricing in a higher probability of a rate cut in March, but the timing could be influenced by upcoming economic data.
Given the recent strong jobs data and the potential for the Fed to take a more hawkish stance, the market’s expectations for an early rate cut might be challenged. Additionally, the decisions of central banks in Europe and Japan are also on the horizon, adding to the complexity of the global economic landscape………[read more]
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