Fri. 9:04 a.m.: Wall Street points slightly lower as more earnings come in

American flags fly outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Wall Street drifted modestly lower before the bell this morning as investors digest more corporate earnings while waiting for the latest government data on consumer inflation.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials were down less than 0.1 percent, while futures for the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 percent.

The Commerce Department issues its December report on consumer spending later this morning. The report contains a measure of inflation that is closely watched by the Federal Reserve, which has aggressively tried to corral inflation by raising its key lending rate seven times last year.

Last month’s report showed that prices rose 5.5 percent in November from a year earlier, down from a revised 6.1 percent increase in October and the smallest gain since October 2021. Fed officials have all but promised to keep rates elevated until inflation retreats closer to their target of around 2 percent.

On Thursday, Wall Street stocks climbed to their highest level in nearly eight weeks after the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9 percent annual pace in the last quarter, ending 2022 with momentum despite higher interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession.

But more swings may still be ahead, as investors digest a torrent of earnings and economic reports. Markets have veered up and down recently as worries about a severe recession and drop-off in profits battle against hopes the economy can manage a soft landing and the Federal Reserve may ease up on interest rates.

Intel tumbled more than 10 percent in off-hours trading after the chipmaker missed profit and revenue forecasts. Shares of Hasbro skidded close to 6 percent in premarket after the toymaker announced late Thursday that it is cutting about 1,000 jobs — about 15 percent of its workforce — as part of moves announced last year to save up to $300 million annually by 2025.

In Europe at midday, France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX each declined 0.2 percent, while Britain’s FTSE 100 was flat.

In Tokyo today, data showed the core consumer price index, excluding volatile food and energy costs, was up 4.3 percent, slightly higher than expected and above the Bank of Japan’s target of 2 percent. Japan’s central bank has refrained from raising interest rates to tamp down price increases, however, saying the risk of growth slowing too quickly outweighs the threat from inflation.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose nearly 0.1 percent to finish at 27,382.56. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent to 7,493.80. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent to 2,484.18. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 22,688.90.

Markets remained closed in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year holidays. Markets on the Chinese mainland will reopen on Monday.

India’s Sensex fell 1.5 percent as the Adani Group was hit by heavy selling for a second trading session. Shares in seven Adani companies have plunged this week, wiping out billions of dollars in market value, after short-selling firm Hindenburg Research said it was betting against the conglomerate, which has holdings in energy, data transmission, construction and other major industries.

The Adani Group nonetheless went ahead with a share offering for retail investors today, as shares in its flagship Adani Enterprises sank nearly 16 percent. Shares in some other group companies fell as much as 20 percent, triggering some halts to trading.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.17 to $82.18 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 14 cents to $81.01 on Thursday.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, gained $1.09 to $88.37 a barrel in London.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged down to 129.86 Japanese yen from 130.23 yen. The euro cost $1.0864, down from $1.0890.


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