Stock futures edged lower with all eyes on the key inflation report

Stock futures were slightly lower in premarket trading Thursday as investors awaited a key inflation report to gauge the outlook for the Federal Reserve’s rate hike campaign.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34 points. S&P 500 futures were partially lower and Nasdaq 100 futures z

All eyes are on the consumer price index reading for December with the consensus forecast calling for a slight easing of price pressures.

Economists expected the consumer price index to fall 0.1 percent in December but rise 6.5 percent year-on-year, compared with a 0.1 percent monthly gain in November and an annual rate of 7.1 percent, according to Dow Jones. CPI is good the peak rate of 9.1% in June.

Excluding food and energy prices, economists expect December’s CPI to be 0.3% higher than the previous month and 5.7% higher than a year ago.

“Inflation should continue to decline, leading to an end to Fed rate hikes this spring, keeping interest rates under control and boosting corporate earnings,” Jeff Buchbinder, chief equity strategist at LPL Financial, said in a note.

Stocks rose on Wednesday ahead of the inflation report as investors bet the Fed could hold off on raising interest rates in light of softer prices. The Dow rose more than 260 points, while the S&P 500 gained 1.3%, with all 11 sectors ending the day higher. The tech Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.8% on Wednesday, snapping a four-day streak.

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