US futures point lower as investors await more consumer data

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NEW YORK — US futures pointed lower Thursday ahead of new consumer spending data that could provide clues as to how Americans may be paring back spending in the face of stubbornly high inflation.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials slipped 1.3% and futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.6%.

On Wednesday, the government confirmed that the US economy shrank 1.6% in the first quarter in its third and final estimate of the country’s gross domestic product. However, a measure of consumer spending — which accounts for about two-thirds of economic output — was substantially weaker than previous calculations. Estimated growth in consumer spending was revised downward to 1.8% from the 3.1% calculated in May.

The Commerce Department issues its May report on consumer spending before markets open on Thursday, which will give investors more detail about Americans’ spending last month.

Investors are uneasy about signs of the biggest global economy might be in a recession due to interest rate hikes imposed to cool surging inflation.

“Equities demand could remain muted for at least the next four to six months as interest rate hikes work through the US economy,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

In midday trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 2%, and the DAX in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 in Paris each shed 2.9%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.1% to 3,398.62 after an official monthly gauge of factory activity rose and new orders improved. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.5% to 21,899.57 after spending much of the day in positive territory.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 1.5% to 26,393.04 after May industrial production slumped 7.2% compared with the previous month. That was the sharpest decline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 and reflected disruptions in China due to the anti-virus controls.

The Kospi in Seoul shed 1.6% to 2,339.70 after official data showed industrial production rose 0.1% in May, possibly also depressed by disruption caused by anti-disease measures that temporarily shut down Shanghai and other Chinese industrial centers.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 declined 2% to 6,568.10 while India’s Sensex gained 0.3% to 53,208.84. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok advanced while Jakarta declined.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, speaking at a European Central Bank meeting in Portugal, said Wednesday there is “no guarantee” inflation can be tamed without hurting the job market.

Investors are also awaiting weekly US jobless benefit claims, which have been consistently low, although there have been more layoffs in industries that have cooled lately, such as real estate, technology and cryptocurrency.

The global economy also has been roiled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up prices of oil, wheat and other commodities.

A monthly purchasing managers’ index released Thursday by the Chinese statistics agency and an industry group rose to 50.2 in June from 49.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate activity is increasing.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1%, sending the US benchmark down 7.6% for the month and 20% from its Jan. 3 peak.

The Dow rose 0.3% while the Nasdaq composite slipped less than 0.1%.

In energy markets Thursday, benchmark US crude lost 96 cents to $108.82 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.98 on Wednesday to $109.78. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, lost 71 cents to $111.74 per barrel in London. It shed $1.72 the previous session to $116.26. per barrel.

The dollar declined to 136.39 yen from Wednesday’s 136.54 yen. The euro fell to $1.0389 from $1.0523.

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