Stock market today: Wall Street slips ahead of new data on inflation and a big week for Big Tech

Stock market today: Wall Street slips ahead of new data on inflation and a big week for Big Tech

Wall Street drifted modestly lower early Tuesday ahead of a highly anticipated update on U.S. consumer prices later this week.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials fell 0.2% before the bell, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.3%.

The Federal Reserve is weighing whether to keep raising interest rates steady in its effort to get inflation back to 2%. On Wednesday, the U.S. government will offer the latest monthly update on prices consumers are paying across the economy, and the forecast is they were 3.6% higher in August than a year earlier.

“Upcoming U.S. data will be crucial leading up to the Federal Reserve’s decision next week,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said.

The Fed has already hiked its main interest rate to the highest level in more than two decades, and it has said it will make upcoming moves based on how inflation and other parts of the economy perform. Inflation has come down from last year’s peak above 9%, but economists warn the last bit of improvement to get to the Fed’s target could be the most difficult to achieve.

Also this week, the U.S. reports the latest data on how retailers are doing. Strong spending by Americans has contributed to the dodging of a long-predicted recession. But it also could encourage companies to keep trying to raise prices, pushing upward on inflation.

Most traders expect the Federal Reserve to leave rates where they are at its meeting next week, according to data from CME Group. But many are bracing for another possible hike by the end of this year, while paring expectations for cuts to rates next year.

It is a big week in the tech sector and in early trading, Oracle is down 10% after the software company released a sales forecast late Monday that fell short of expectations.

Google’s antitrust trial opens in federal court early Tuesday with the government accusing Google of abusing its position as the world’s dominant search engine and forcing consumers to settle for inferior search results. It’s the biggest U.S. antitrust trial since regulators went after Microsoft a quarter century ago.

The legal battle could cause Google to lose focus. That’s what happened to Microsoft after its antitrust showdown with the Justice Department. Distracted, the software giant struggled to adapt to the impact of internet search and smartphones. Google capitalized on that distraction to leap from its startup roots into an imposing powerhouse.

Also Tuesday, Apple holds a product launch event for its iPhone 15. The showcase comes with the company experiencing a mild slump that has seen its sales drop from last year in three consecutive quarters — with management signaling another downturn is likely during the current quarter. Apple’s stock is down more than 10% since mid-July.

WestRock, a maker of containerboard and other packaging, rose 6% before the bell after the Atlanta company said it’s being acquired by Ireland’s Smurfit Kappa Group to create a packaging giant with a combined value of close to $20 billion. The new company will be called called Smurfit WestRock and will maintain operations in Atlanta, with the other headquarters being located in Dublin.

In Europe at midday, France’s CAC 40 slid 0.3%, while Germany’s DAX shed 0.6% and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3%.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 1.0% to finish at 32,776.37. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2% to 7,206.90. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.8% to 2,536.58. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.4% to 18,025.89, while the Shanghai Composite fell nearly 0.2% to 3,137.06.

In other trading Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude gained 73 cents to $88.02 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 62 cents to $91.26 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar edged up to 147.04 Japanese yen from 146.55 yen. The euro cost $1.0708, down from $1.0756.

On Monday, a Big Tech rally lifted markets. The S&P 500 rose 0.7% and the Dow industrials 0.3%. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.1%.


Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.

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