Futures drop as bond yields gain on producer price data

(AFP pic)

NEW YORK: US stock futures slipped to session lows on Wednesday as Treasury yields rose after data showed US producer prices rose last month, suggesting there was no let up in inflation pressures.

The producer price index (PPI) climbed 0.2% in September, reversing from an unexpected decline in August and in line with expectations. More importantly, core PPI, which excludes food, energy and trade services, grew 0.4% last month, the largest increase since January.

US Treasury yields advanced after the data, holding near multi-year highs hit after a recent string of healthy economic data fanned fears of rising inflation and faster interest rate hikes.

Alongside those concerns, investors also have to consider the impact of the US-China trade war on the global economy. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast for 2018 and 2019 and said the United States and China would face the brunt of the impact of their dispute next year.

“PPI rebounded in Sept and I don’t think its a game changer. The bottom line is there are more and more negative warnings on equity assets and the market is adjusting to climbing yields and, of course, a stronger dollar,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Investors are becoming more cautious and basically reversing the trend that we had from many years that was pouring of capital into equities. And, of course, all this is happening before we get into the earnings season.”

At 9.11am ET, Dow e-minis were down 58 points, or 0.22%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 8.5 points, or 0.29% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 44 points, or 0.59%.

Shares of U.S. semiconductor makers were leading the decliners on the top indexes in premarket trading after Swiss vacuum valve maker VAT Group, which supplies chip equipment, said demand from customers had slumped.

Intel, Applied Materials, Lam Research, Micron and Qualcomm were down between 1.42% and 2.35%.

Apple dipped 0.5% and Amazon.com was off 0.5%. The top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee has asked the two companies and Super Micro Computer for staff briefings about a Bloomberg report that China implanted malicious hardware into server motherboards provided by Super Micro.

Alibaba dropped 1.8% after Morgan Stanley and Raymond James cut their near-term profit estimates on the Chinese e-commerce company, citing a softer economic environment in China.

Sears Holdings plunged 29.7% after the Wall Street Journal said the debt-laden retailer was preparing for a possible bankruptcy.