Skip to main content

Nasdaq Futures Gain on J&J Vaccine Pause, Dow Slips on Inflation Leap

Inflation hawks will key on the March release as evidence for near-term rate hikes; doves will argue base effects render the readings moot amid the post-pandemic rebound.

The Tuesday Market Minute

  • Global stocks edge higher in low volume ahead of a key reading of March inflation that could begin a run of readings that challenge the Federal Reserve's interest rate consensus.
  • CDC and FDA officials suspend the use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine amid links to rare form of blood clots.
  • March CPI jumps 2.6% from last year, with further pandemic-affected increases in the months ahead, as trillions in stimulus and myriad Fed supports buttress consumer spending and corporate pricing power. 
  • Retail sales figures on Thursday will offer another significant signal for near-term growth prospects, while JPMorgan earnings Wednesday will unofficially kick-off the first quarter earnings season.
  • CDC data shows 74.1 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, with around 189.6 million doses administered as of Sunday.
  • Benchmark 10-year note yields ease 1.688% on J&J vaccine pause, boosting stay-at-home stocks and Nasdaq futures.

U.S. equity futures reversed earlier gains Tuesday following reports that FDA and CDC officials will call for a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson's  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report coronavirus vaccine amid concerns for its link to a rare form of blood clotting.

The New York Times report clouded a modestly positive start to the session which was expected to be highlighted by a key reading of March inflation at 8:30 am Eastern time that could mark a series of pandemic-effected data releases that challenge the Federal Reserve's interest rate consensus. 

Headline consumer prices, meanwhile, rose 2.6% in March, amid the fastest month-on-month increase since 2012, in what could be a series of readings that will show inflation running well ahead of the Fed's 2% target. 

However, while investors clearly understand that the fastest readings are the result of comparisons that came amid the worst of last year's pandemic, and Fed officials have been consistent in their messaging that the gains will be temporary -- and won't induce rate hikes -- market reaction to a higher-than-expected reading is almost assured.

Data from China today showing March exports rose 30% last year, coupled with last week's reading of factory gate inflation that rose to a three year high of 4.4%, added further evidence to the case for higher end prices in the U.S. over the coming months.

That's keeping Wall Street on edge Tuesday, although benchmark 10-year note yields eased to 1.668% following news of the J&J vaccine pause and yesterday's $38 billion re-opening auction.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average suggest a 75 point decline, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 1 point pullback from last night's close of 4,127.99 points.

Nasdaq Composite futures, the most sensitive to interest rate moves, are indicating a 70 point advance at the start of trading.

Investors are also reluctant to extend risk ahead of the unofficial start of the first quarter earnings season tomorrow, with Refinitiv forecasts indicating S&P 500 profits will rise 25% last year to a share-weighted $338.3 billion.

JPMorgan  (JPM) - Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report kicks things off Wednesday, followed by updates from Wall Street rivals Citigroup  (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (The) Report, Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report, Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report and Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corporation Report before the end of the week.

In Europe, a weaker-than-expected reading of investor sentiment from Germany, the region's largest economy, offered a reminder of the Continent's lagging position in terms of exiting the pandemic, although the Stoxx 600 managed to build a 0.1% gain by mid-day trading, 

Overnight in Asia, the solid but not spectacular China export data gave regional markets a boost, but escalating military tensions between Beijing and Taiwan kept markets in check, with the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan benchmark rising 0.1% on the session.

Japan's Nikkei 225, meanwhile, used a softer yen to book a 0.72% gain heading into its corporate earnings season, pegging the benchmark at 29,751.61.

In global oil markets, China's 21% March jump in crude exports kept prices in the black, although today's API reading of domestic stockpiles, and tomorrow's Energy Department report, could show further increases that raise more questions about the pace of near-term growth.

WTI futures contracts for May were marked 35 cents higher at $60.05 per barrel while Brent contracts for June added 46 cents to trade at $63.76 per barrel.