Market Optimism Soars with S&P 500 Futures on the Brink of Historic Highs Ahead of CPI

On the early hours of Thursday, futures hinted at a slightly higher opening for the S&P 500, staying within a few points of the record close at 4796.6 recorded in January 2022.

The possibility of reaching this milestone is contingent upon the release of the December CPI inflation report scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Since October, the stock market has witnessed a strong rally, driven by the belief that the Federal Reserve might consider interest rate cuts due to ongoing inflation moderation.

The December CPI report holds the potential to reshape this narrative, particularly if it reveals a less favorable inflation outlook than anticipated. Such a development could lead traders to reconsider optimistic bets on Fed rate cuts.

Julien Lafargue, Chief Market Strategist at Barclays Private Bank, cautioned against overly optimistic expectations, stating, “In our view, markets remain too aggressive around interest rate cut expectations.” Lafargue added that while an upside surprise in the CPI report may not entirely shift this perception, it could serve as an initial step in aligning markets with the Fed’s narrative of potential future cuts.

Prior to the CPI report, there was already a move to purchase bonds, resulting in a 4.3 basis points dip in the 10-year Treasury yield to 3.991%. Concurrently, the price of U.S. WTI crude increased by 1.7% to approximately $78 per barrel following reports of an oil tanker seizure in the Gulf.

Scheduled for the day, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is set to appear on Bloomberg Television at 11:30 a.m., and Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin will discuss the economic outlook at 12:40 p.m.

Additional economic data for Thursday includes the weekly initial jobless claims, also slated for release at 8:30 a.m. At 1 p.m., the U.S. Treasury plans to auction $21 billion of 30-year bonds, and the monthly budget statement is expected at 2 p.m., with the Congressional Budget Office estimating a deficit of $128 billion in December.

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