US stock futures struggled for direction Friday morning as investors digested an update on inflation, which showed price increases unexpectedly rose by the most since 1981 amid elevated prices for gas, food and a variety of other goods and services.
Contracts on the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq sank sharply following the print. Treasury yields spiked on the short end of the curve, and the 2-year yield jumped to top 2.9%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield retreated to hover just over 3%. US crude oil prices jumped to trade above $ 122 per barrel, holding near the highest level since March.
For market participants, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was a key print, offering a fresh look at the extent to which price increases have persisted across the US economy. The index unexpectedly accelerated to post an 8.6% annual increase in May, following April’s 8.3% rise. That marked the biggest jump since late 1981, and took out the prior 41-year high set in the March CPI, which rose 8.5%.
On a month-over-month basis, CPI also jumped by 1.0%, or more than the 0.7% rise expected, and April’s 0.3% increase. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased 6.0% on an annual basis after April’s 6.2% increase.
Inflation has remained a dominant issue for investors, policymakers and the American public this year. Higher prices have threatened to weigh on consumer spending – the key driver of US economic activity – as goods and services become increasingly unaffordable. And inflation has already shown signs of triggering a rotation from spending on some discretionary goods to other purchase areas.
And for investors, inflation has also become a key determinant in the path forward for the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies. As the Fed aims to help bring down fast-rising prices, the central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by another half-point at next week’s policy-setting meeting, further increasing the cost of borrowing and doing business for companies.
Amid these concerns over inflation’s impact on the economy and Fed’s next moves, stocks have continued to trade choppily. Each of the three major averages was on track to post a back-to-back week of losses, based on Thursday’s closing prices. The S&P 500 headed for a weekly decline of about 2%.
“At the end of the day, markets are just faced with a whole lot of uncertainty right now. And it’s not just that inflation story,” Jack Manley, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “We have still some uncertainty, some lack of clarity around what the Fed is going to do. The war in Europe continues to rage. And we know there are new developments happening on that front every few days.”
“There’s a lot to digest right now. And without any sort of real clarity on these things, it’s hard for markets to meaningfully move higher or lower,” he added. “It’s all markets really want at the end of the day, is news. And no news is bad news.”
7:14 am ET: Stock futures mixed before inflation data
Here were the main moves in markets as of 7:14 am ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES = F): -6.25 points (-0.16%) to 4,010.00
Dow futures (YM = F): -85 points (-0.26%) to 32,178.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ = F): +6.25 points (+ 0.05%) to 12,281.25
Crude (CL = F): + $ 0.94 (+ 0.77%) to $ 122.45 a barrel
Gold (GC = F): – $ 8.20 (-0.44%) to $ 1,844.60 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^ TNX): -0.7 bps to yield 3.035%
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.
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