S&P, Nasdaq futures at peaks ahead of crucial inflation report

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Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes were near record highs on Friday, helped by gains in major U.S. lenders and a robust earnings forecast from Nike, while investors braced for the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation data.

Nike Inc surged 11% to a record high in premarket trading after the sneaker maker forecast fiscal full-year sales ahead of Wall Street estimates, helping Dow futures rise 0.3%.

Big banks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo added between 0.2% and 1.5% after the Fed announced they have cleared latest stress test and will no longer face pandemic-era restrictions on buying back stock and paying dividends.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq reclaimed record highs this week, looking at their best weekly jumps since early April, as U.S. President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure deal and reassurances from Fed Chair Jerome Powell calmed nerves after the central bank’s hawkish surprise last week.

Inflation has been front-and-center of investors’ minds, increasing scrutiny on personal consumption expenditures data at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT), which is likely to show a measure of underlying inflation surpassed the Fed’s 2% flexible target.

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Bank of America expects U.S. inflation to remain elevated for two to four years, against a rising perception of it being transitory, and said that only a financial market crash would prevent central banks from tightening policy in the next six months.

At 6:54 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 102 points, or 0.3%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.75 points, or 0.11%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 25.25 points, or 0.18%.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 indexes closed at record highs, while the Dow jumped almost 1% on Thursday after Biden embraced the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Senate spending deal and as data showed a labor market recovery was on track, albeit at a slower pace.

Latest evidence of a labor shortage came from FedEx Corp as the U.S. delivery firm missed 2022 earnings forecast due to hiring difficulties. Its shares shed 3.8%.

Rival United Parcel Service Inc also fell 1.3%.

Investors are also girding for probably the biggest trading event of the year, as FTSE Russell reconstitutes its indexes which could reflect a wild trading year marked by the pandemic and a “meme” stock craze. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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