Stock market today: Wall Street pushes higher in ahead of more inflation data this week

Wall Street is tracking higher early Monday ahead of new inflation data this week that will provide some insight into where prices are heading and how that is playing out for households and for the economy.

The futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.5%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%.

The U.S. releases monthly consumer prices on Wednesday, which is followed a day later by producer prices, the cost of goods before they reach the consumer. Both effect retail sales, and the U.S. releases August statistics on that front as well on Thursday.

Economists expect that consumer prices rose slightly in August, up 3.6% from a year ago. Inflation has been generally cooling since peaking above 9% last summer, but the worry is the last bit of improvement to get to the Fed’s 2% inflation target may prove the most difficult.

High interest rates are supposed to slow the economy and hurt the job market, which should ultimately help undercut inflation. But the highest rates in more than two decades have yet to do that with great effect. The threat is that could push the Fed to raise rates again and at the very least to keep them high for longer than investors expect.

A recent surge in oil prices has added to worries that inflation may not be waning as much as hoped for in the U.S and other major economies. That could lead the Federal Reserve and other central banks to keep interest rates higher for longer, which would hurt prices for shares and other investments.

Over the weekend, China reported a slight increase in its own inflation data, suggesting deflationary pressures seen as a sign of weakness in its slowing economy might be easing. The government is due to report industrial output for August later in the week.

“We expect inflation to rebound further over the coming months, as policy support drives a modest recovery in China’s economic momentum,” Zichun Huang of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.8% to 3,142.78, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.6% to 18,087.79.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares sank more than 2.6% after it said its former CEO, Daniel Zhang, would step down as head of its cloud-computing unit and instead head an investment fund to help drive the company’s future growth.

The company has been restructuring after setbacks from regulatory crackdowns on the technology and financial sectors.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.4% to 32,467.76, while the Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.4% to 2,556.88.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,192.30.

China will report more data this week, while an update on consumer prices is due Wednesday in the U.S. Economists expect it to show prices at the consumer level were 3.6% higher in August than a year earlier.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX gained 0.4%, the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3% and in London the FTSE 100 added 0.5%.

Yields in the bond market held relatively steady with the yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 4.3%, up from 4.2% late Friday. The two-year Treasury yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.99% from 4.97%.

Early Monday, U.S. benchmark crude was down 62 cents at $86.89 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 64 cents to $87.51 a barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, lost 36 cents to $90.29 a barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 146.78 Japanese yen from 146.99 yen after Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda reportedly hinted at a possible change in Japan’s longstanding near-zero interest rate policy. The euro rose to $1.0728 from $1.0714.

On Friday, stocks edged higher on Wall Street, but markets still finished with their their first losing week in the last three.

The S&P 500 ticked up 0.1% but lost 1.3% for the week, which was shortened by the Labor Day holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite added 0.1%.

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