Stocks were lower ahead the Wall Street bell on Wednesday, with the focus firmly on consumer inflation data that could sway the Federal Reserve’s next policy decision.
August’s Consumer Price Index report showed a bigger-than-expected jump in inflation last month, with headline prices rising 0.6% month to month and 3.7% on an annual basis. The uptick was driven by the recent rally in energy prices.
The data represents last inflation print the Fed will get before its meeting next week, and one of the most important data points policymakers will consider in deciding whether to keep interest rates higher for longer.
Prices for WTI crude (CL=F) and Brent (BZ=F) oil continued to rise on Wednesday, trading near 10-month highs. That put pressure on stocks as well as potentially hampering the Fed’s efforts to cool inflation.
Eyes are still on the blockbuster Arm IPO, with investors expecting pricing for the offering on Wednesday, and trading to start in New York on Thursday. The Softbank-backed British chip designer has opted to accept backing at the top end of its range ($47-$51 a share) or above, according to Reuters sources.
Apple is also in focus after its launch of the iPhone 15 and as China flagged “security incidents” with the smartphone on Wednesday. Officials denied China was moving to curb the use of iPhones in government departments and state-owned companies, after reports that helped drive a slide in Apple’s stock.
At the same time, the EU has launched a probe into the subsidy China gives its EV makers, in a bid to ward off a flood of cheap imports. Shares in Europe’s auto sector initially rallied after the announcement, but lost ground as fears of a Chinese backlash grew.