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Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures inch up ahead of JPMorgan results, consumer price inflation

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U.S. stock futures edged higher on Wednesday, as investors waited for earnings season to get under way with results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Delta Air Lines, as an important reading on consumer prices also loomed.

How are stock-index futures trading?

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.34%

fell 118 points, or 0.34%, to 34378, the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.24%

declined 11 points, or 0.24%, to 4351, and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-0.14%

dropped 20 points, or 0.14%, to 14466.

What’s driving the market?

Stock markets have seen choppy action this week have investors have anxiously awaited the start of third-quarter earnings season, amid concerns supply-chain problems and labor shortages have dented profit margins. Kicking off the reporting season, JPMorgan Chase
JPM,
-0.77%
,
BlackRock
BLK,
-0.42%

and Delta Air Lines
DAL,
+0.81%

are due to report ahead of Wednesday’s open.

Shares of Apple
AAPL,
-0.91%

fell slightly in premarket trading, after Bloomberg reported late Tuesday that the tech giant will cut iPhone 13 production due to the global chip supply shortages.

Read: Will bank stocks’ wild rally continue? Here are the numbers to watch in this week’s earnings

Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to rise 27.6% annually, a pace markedly slower than a 52.8% gain in the first quarter and 92.4% in the second quarter, which both benefited from favorable comparisons versus the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bank of America has warned that guidance from companies could be ugly amid a “make or break quarter.”

Opinion: Beating the market would still be tough even if you knew the S&P 500’s earnings before everyone else

September consumer prices are also in the spotlight for Tuesday, with economists forecasting that the monthly number will rise 0.3%, and the annual number steady stable at 5.3%. The numbers are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The data will show how a 13% rally in U.S. crude prices has hit inflation, with chances of a stronger number more likely than a softer one, said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, in a note to clients.

“And a strong inflation [number] will only reinforce the expectation that the Federal Reserve (Fed) would start tapering its bond purchases by next month, that’s already priced in. Yet, a too strong figure could boost expectations of an earlier rate hike from the Fed, and that’s not necessarily fully priced in,” said the analyst.

Later on Wednesday, investors will get the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes. That could “reiterate the Fed’s willingness to start tapering the bond purchases soon and could give a further insight regarding the need and the possibility of seeing the rate normalization happen before 2023,” said Ozkardeskaya.

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