Stock market today: S&P and Nasdaq futures rise as retail sales dip calms inflation fears

Feb 16, 2024
  • US stock futures broadly rose on Friday as declining retail sales offset inflation fears.
  • S&P and Nasdaq futures climbed, while the 10-year Treasury yield and dollar were almost flat.
  • Investors are finding reasons to be bullish regardless of what the data says, one analyst said.

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US stocks were primed to open higher on Friday as signs of softening consumer demand tempered concerns of stubborn inflation.

S&P 500 futures were up 0.2% shortly after 5 a.m. ET, building on the benchmark stock index’s 0.6% gain on Thursday that saw it close at a record 5,030 points. Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.6%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slid by 0.1%.

Meanwhile, the key 10-year Treasury yield inched up to 4.264%, close to a two-month high. The US Dollar Index was almost flat at around 104, well above its December low of under 101.

Wall Street was rattled this week after headline inflation in January didn’t drop below 3% as widely predicted. But retail sales slid by a larger-than-expected 0.8% last month, government data revealed on Thursday, helping to allay fears of an overheated economy and persistently high interest rates.

Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, suggested in a morning note that investors would have celebrated strong retail sales too, as they’d view it as fresh evidence that a recession has been avoided.

“We are coming to a point where the economic data becomes meaningless,” she said. “Whatever the data prints, the US stock market finds a positive narrative to keep the rally going. It’s, of course, blind optimism; investors are blinded by the brilliance of the rate cuts at the tunnel’s end.”

“Today, the US will reveal the latest producer price update,” she continued. “The producer price inflation is expected to have slowed in January. And if it didn’t, it doesn’t matter.”

Companies slated to report earnings later include TC Energy, Vulcan Materials, and Cinemark.

On the economic front, Wall Street will be looking out for not just producer price data, but figures for housing starts in January, and scheduled comments from two Federal Reserve officials, Michael Barr and Mary Daly.

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