Dow Futures Waver, Chinese Stocks Under Pressure—and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

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Investors will consider inflation data Tuesday against a backdrop of the Federal Reserve considering the end of its Covid-19 pandemic-era programs.

Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Wall Street was treading water Tuesday while global stocks were largely lower, as investors look ahead to key U.S. inflation data.

U.S. stock market futures were wavering, moving above and below flat in the hours before New York trading begins, set for a soft open after stocks rose Monday. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average pointed up around 50 points, with futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indicating a similarly higher open.

Overseas, the Chinese technology sector remained under pressure from the planned breakup of major payments app Alipay by regulators, with the Shanghai Composite down 1.4% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index falling 1.2%. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.1% lower, in line with most of the region’s major indexes.

Investor attention is squarely focused on inflation data coming later in the day, when markets will react to the U.S. consumer-price index for August, and core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices. Expectations are for CPI to rise 0.4% in August, down from 0.5% in July, with core CPI holding steady at 0.3%.

Inflation has been central to the narrative of markets in recent months—especially the debate over whether high year-over-year readings are permanent or transitory. Concerns over inflation come as central banks like the Federal Reserve consider slowing, or tapering, their Covid-19 pandemic-era program of monthly asset purchases, which add liquidity to markets.

“With markets back on inflation and tapering watch, the path of least resistance is higher prints from the data,” said Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at broker Oanda. A higher print would mean more-than-expected inflation.

“In that circumstance, I expect the U.S. Dollar to spike, U.S. yields to rise, and equities to probably have a bad day at the office,” Halley added. “But given the lack of momentum anywhere at the moment, I’m not sure it will last.”

Here are the stocks on the move Tuesday:

Evergrande shares plunged nearly 12% in Hong Kong, as the embattled, highly-indebted Chinese property giant warned over property sales and detailed the extent of its financial problems.

Alibaba stock fell 1.5% in Hong Kong, with the U.S.-listed shares poised for similar declines, as the wider Chinese technology sector continues to find itself under pressure.

Carlsberg shares moved 2% lower in Copenhagen after a double downgrade by investment bank Berenberg.

Luxury-goods stocks like LVMH, Burberry, Kering, and Richemont were all lower, as analysts noted concerns over Covid-19 in Asia and its impact on sales.

Write to Jack Denton at