CNBC Daily Open: Bracing for April’s consumer price index

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In this article

People walk along Wall Street outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on May 03, 2023 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

Markets had a quiet Tuesday as investors braced for key inflation reports coming out later today and Thursday.

What you need to know today

  • Stocks in the U.S. closed lower Tuesday as investors await the consumer price index later Wednesday. Asia-Pacific markets fell Wednesday. South Korea’s Kospi slid 0.33% even as the country’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.6% in April.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden met with top lawmakers Tuesday to discuss the country’s debt ceiling — but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he didn’t see “any new movement” on a deal. McCarthy added he would meet Biden, along with other party leaders, again on Friday.
  • If inflation doesn’t return to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, the central bank might have to raise rates further, cautioned New York Federal Reserve President John Williams. As high rates work through the economy, Williams expects unemployment to rise around a percentage point to 4% to 4.5%.
  • PRO Economists expect U.S. CPI to show that prices are still rising, largely because of an expected rebound in used car prices. Stubbornly high inflation would pressure the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates unchanged.

The bottom line

Markets had a quiet Tuesday as investors braced for key inflation reports coming out later today and Thursday.

Investors’ hesitation was reflected in the low volume Tuesday. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), which tracks the S&P, traded 44 million shares, below its 30-day average of 76.1 million. Major stock indexes mostly fell, but only fractionally. The S&P 500 dipped 0.46%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was mostly flat and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.6%.

For regional banks that experienced a week of volatile price swings, however, it was a welcome respite. The SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF lost 0.4%, but PacWest, the besieged Los Angeles-based lender, managed to eke out a 2.35% gain.

Most of the big swings happened in extended trading as a slew of companies reported earnings after the bell. Airbnb slid 11.2% and Twilio sank 14.7% after both companies issued weaker-than-expected forecast for the second quarter. One bright spot: Electric vehicle maker Rivian popped 6.4% after the company’s net loss narrowed more than analysts anticipated.

Investors are hoping April’s CPI reading will show dipping prices. But there are signs inflation won’t cool as quickly as many wish. Economists think April’s headline CPI number will remain unchanged from March’s. April’s jobs report showed the labor market’s still going strong, which might contribute to price pressures. Indeed, New York Fed President John Williams said he doesn’t expect inflation to drop to 2% until the next two years. It could be a rocky road ahead, both for the economy and markets.

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