Stock Market Today: Stocks Flat With Inflation Data, Q3 Earnings In Focus

Wall Street looks set for a muted start Monday as investors brace for inflation data and the unofficial start to the third quarter earnings season later this week.

U.S. equity futures edged lower Monday, while the dollar consolidated gains against its global peers, as investors extended their retreat from risk markets following an escalation of military action in the Ukraine and ahead of a the unofficial start to the third quarter earnings season later this week.

Reports from Kyiv suggest Russia bombs targeted both the Ukrainian capital as well as energy installations in cities around the country Monday in an apparent retaliation for the destruction of a key bridge linking Crimea to the mainland.

The attacks on Kyiv, the most significant in several weeks, rattled global markets and pushed investors into the arms of the safe-haven U.S. dollar, which rose 0.3% against its global peers to change hands at 113.110 in early New York trading.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was also elevated by last week’s stronger-than-expected September payroll report, which showed U.S. employers added 263,000 new jobs last month, pulling the headline unemployment rate to 3.5% and cementing the case for another larger rate hike from the Federal Reserve next month.

The CME Group’s FedWatch, in fact, pegs the chances of a fourth consecutive 75 basis point rate hike at just under 80%, with the bulk of betting pointing to a Fed Funds rate of between 4.5% and 4.75% by the end of the year.

That escalation clipped a short-lived rally on Wall Street last week, and looks to hang over stocks at the start of trading on Monday, as well, as investors look ahead to a busy week for economic data and earnings releases, as well as minutes from the Fed’s September meeting on Wednesday.

The S&P 500, however, is still up 1.51% for the month, despite Friday’s sell-off, although that compares to a 23.6% decline for the year, one of the worst performances for the main U.S. benchmark in at least two decades.

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Inflation and earnings will likely dictate market direction later this week as investors look for any suggestion of a slowdown in consumer price pressures and their impact on corporate profits heading into the final months of the year.

Thursday’s September inflation reading, slated for 8:30 am Eastern time, is expected to show a moderation in the headline rate but another modest acceleration in core consumer price pressures, a mix that is likely to do little to change the Fed’s rate hike path nor its determination to keep the elevated well into the coming year.

The data will follow minutes of the Fed’s October meeting, which will be released on Wednesday afternoon, and the unofficial start of the third quarter earnings season on Friday, with September quarter updates from JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) – Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report, Citigroup  (C) – Get Citigroup Inc. Report, Wells Fargo  (WFC) – Get Wells Fargo & Company Report and Morgan Stanley  (MS) – Get Morgan Stanley Report.

Collective S&P 500 profits are expected to rise 4.1% from last year to $463.9 billion, according to data from Refinitiv, lead by gains from both the energy and industrials sectors.

Ahead of the Monday open, however, futures tied to the S&P 500 are indicating a 7 point opening bell decline, while those linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is up 2% for the month, are priced for a 5 point gain. Contracts tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq are indicating a 30 point decline.

Overnight in Asia, China markets re-opened following that nation’s traditional October holiday week, with tech stocks leading indices sharply lower following a move by the Biden administration to tighten rules on semiconductor technology exports.

The region-wide MSCI ex-Japan benchmark fell 1.95% into the final hours of trading, while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was marked 0.71% lower following Friday’s close on Wall Street.

In Europe, the region-wide Stoxx 600 index was up 0.04% by mid-day trading in Frankfurt, with Britain’s FTSE 100 down 0.24% following a step-up in bond buying from the Bank of England as the pound drifted to 1.10 against the U.S. dollar. 

Ford Motor  (F) – Get Ford Motor Company Report shares were a notable pre-market mover, falling nearly 4% after analysts at UBS lowered their rating and price target on the carmaker citing the risk of waning demand amid a looming U.S. recession.

Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report shares were also lower, and tracking declines in the tech sector, following data from China showing record September sales. 

The China Passenger Car Association (CPAC) said Tesla delivered 83,155 cars last month, an 8% increase from August that crushed the group’s previous best of just under 79,000 recorded in June. 

Apple  (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report shares were modestly higher, rising 0.14%  following a report that suggested the tech giant was able to buck the trend of cooling personal computer demand with solid third quarter MacBook shipments.

The International Data Corporation’s closely-tracked survey showed global PC shipments fell 15% from last year to around 74.3 million units, lead by a 27.8% decline for HP Inc.  (HPQ) – Get HP Inc. Report. Apple, however, notched a 40.2% gain for the three months ending in September, with shipments rising to just over 10,000 units of is Mac personal computers. 

Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Report shares, meanwhile, bumped closer to the $54.20 level at which billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk looks set to purchase the social media group later this month.

Questions remain, however, over the nature of the funding required to reach the $44 billion price tag, with banks on the hook for around $12.5 billion in loans and Musk himself having raised around $15.4 billion from the sale of Tesla shares. 

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