Earnings boost stocks as markets brace for U.S. inflation data

Earnings boost stocks as markets brace for U.S. inflation data

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LONDON — U.S. stock futures ticked up and European stocks reversed early losses on upbeat earnings on Wednesday, though markets were jittery ahead of U.S. consumer price data later in the session and oil dropped from recent multi-year highs.

Concerns about rising inflation are gnawing at optimism about global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

September U.S. CPI is forecast to show a monthly gain of 0.3%, according to a Reuters poll. Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s September policy meeting are also due later.

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“The markets are at a crossroads,” said Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM. “Are we in a stagflationary environment – will we see low growth but high inflation? That’s the concern.”

S&P futures gained 0.17% after the S&P 500 dropped 0.24% overnight, as JPMorgan reported a rise in third-quarter earnings that beat estimates at the unofficial start of the company earnings season.

European stocks swung from early losses to a gain of 0.5%, helped by an upbeat earnings forecast from German software group SAP and robust quarterly sales for French luxury goods maker LVMH.

UK stocks were little changed.

The MSCI world equity index was flat after dropping in the previous three sessions.

Oil prices fell on the inflation concerns although surging prices for power generation fuel such as coal and natural gas limited losses.

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Brent crude dropped 0.56% to $82.95 a barrel, off Monday’s three-year high of $84.60, while U.S. crude fell 0.52% to $80.22, off Monday’s seven-year high of $82.18.

Energy supply shortages could “boost headline inflation and curtail growth further if the winter is cold,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.

The dollar fell 0.25% against an index of currencies after hitting a one-year high in the previous session on rising expectations the Fed will announce a tapering of stimulus next month, with interest rate hikes following next year.

Three U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers on Tuesday said the U.S. economy had healed enough for the central bank to begin to withdraw its crisis-era support.

The dollar steadied at 113.55 yen after hitting its highest in nearly three years against the Japanese currency on Tuesday. The euro was up 0.29% at $1.1561, recovering from the previous day’s 15-month lows.

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Yields on two-year U.S. Treasury notes steadied at 0.35% after hitting 18-month highs on Tuesday.

Germany’s 10-year yield fell 2.5 basis points to -0.125% after rising to -0.085% earlier, its highest since late May .

“There is pressure from the inflation story,” said Charles Diebel, head of fixed income at asset manager Mediolanum, pointing to increased expectations of UK rate hikes.

“People are worrying about the same happening elsewhere, they fear inflation will be so persistent central banks will be forced to respond.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan clawed back some ground, rising 0.36% after falling over 1% a day earlier, its worst daily performance in three weeks.

Positive trade figures from China, which showed export growth unexpectedly accelerated in September, provided some relief to those worried about a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

The data helped Chinese blue chips jump 1.15%, despite continued weakness in real estate stocks.

Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.32%, as high energy prices and a weak yen mean trouble for a country that buys the bulk of its oil from overseas.

Gold, used as a hedge against inflation, rose 0.66% to $1,772 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong and Sujata Rao in London; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Edmund Blair and Chizu Nomiyama)

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