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Stock futures open higher, shaking off earlier losses

Stock futures opened slightly higher Tuesday evening after dropping during the regular trading day, with September selling pressure returning to markets even after a report showed a slower-than-expected rise in inflation last month.

Contracts on the S&P 500 ticked above the flat line. Dow futures also steadied after the index shed nearly 300 points during the regular trading day, resuming declines and falling for the sixth time in seven sessions. Shares of technology heavyweight Apple (AAPL) rose in late trading after the company unveiled its latest line of new products, including the iPhone 13 and new iterations of the iPad, iPad mini, and Apple Watch.

Tuesday’s drop in equities came even following a cooler-than-anticipated print on inflation for August, which suggested some of the sharp increases in prices earlier this year were beginning to moderate. The Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI), excluding volatile food and energy prices, ticked up by just 0.1% in August compared to July, posting its slowest monthly gain since February. Core CPI also rose less than expected over last year. 

However, the big contributors to the drop were declines in prices for things like airfare and hotel room rates, which were likely only temporarily pushed down due to renewed concerns over the Delta variant. Still, the slower-than-expected rise in consumer prices helps vindicate some Federal Reserve policymakers’ views that inflation will ultimately prove transitory, and offers more room for officials to keep current monetary policies in place for longer, some pundits said. 

“We probably won’t get the answer to whether it’s transitory or not probably until 2022 – that’s when the base effects will start to wash out and all the distortions start to kind of resolve themselves,” Sameer Samana, Wells Fargo Investment Institute senior global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday.

“What the number today tells us is that the Fed probably has a little more wiggle room,” he added. “If they don’t want to do something at the meeting next week, given the weaker-than-expected [August] payrolls number, the inflation number today, also takes the pressure off of them to do something next week.” 

Still, investors continue to appraise a host of risks to the economic and equity outlook, with price pressures serving as only concern. And with U.S. equities still relatively close to all-time highs and the S&P 500 still up by more than 18% so far this year, jitters over the fundamental backdrop have only been intensifying.

“I do think we’re going to see a bit of an air pocket in concern from some of the companies going into year-end,” Chris Retzler, Needham small cap growth fund portfolio manager, told Yahoo Finance. “Supply chains are still certainly stretched. Semiconductors are a problem across almost every industry, and labor costs continue to be a problem. But looking a year out, I would think that those problems begin to abate, and that’s good for long-term investors.” 

6:10 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures tick up

Here were the main moves in markets as of Tuesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +4 points (+0.09%) at 4,448.50

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +21 points (+0.06%) to 34,604.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +15 points (+0.1%) to 15,402.00

Traders work at the trading floor in the New York Stock Exchange in New York, the United States, Aug. 19, 2021. The S&P 500 Index closed at 4,405.80 points, up 5.53 points, or 0.13 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 34,894.12 points, down 66.57 points, or 0.19 percent.The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 14,541.79 points, up 15.88 points, or 0.11 percent. (Photo by Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck