Futures fall on investor caution ahead of inflation data

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were muted on Friday ahead of a fresh inflation reading next week against the backdrop of latest economic data fueling concerns of interest rates remaining higher for longer.

Stronger-than-expected services activity and a fall in weekly jobless claims have rekindled fears of elevated interest rates among market participants, dragging the S&P 500 and Nasdaq lower on Thursday.

On the radar is Consumer Price Index for August due on Sept. 13, which will be followed by the Federal Reserve’s policy decision on Sept. 20.

“While our base case is for no further hikes in this cycle, we expect economic uncertainty to keep equity markets volatile and range-bound in the coming months,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Money markets see a 93% chance of interest rates staying at current levels in September, while pricing in a 55.4% chance of a pause in rate hikes in the November meeting, according to CME FedWatch Tool.

Shares of Apple were flat in premarket trading after a two-day selloff that weighed on U.S. stocks following news that Beijing has ordered central government employees in recent weeks to stop using iPhones at work.

Another report on Friday said China’s restrictions are expanding to local governments and state-owned companies.

Morgan Stanley said the curbs will at most cause a 4% slide in revenue, suggesting the recent selloff in the iPhone-maker’s shares was “overdone.”

At 5:31 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 77 points, or 0.22%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 11.75 points, or 0.26%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 45 points, or 0.29%.

Investors also digested mixed commentary from several Fed speakers on Thursday.

New York Fed President John Williams kept his options open over future interest rate policy, Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan said while it “could be appropriate” to skip a rate hike in the upcoming meeting, more policy tightening may be needed.

More comments from policymakers are scheduled later in the day, including from Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr.

Among individual share moves, Faraday Future Intelligent Electric jumped 14.4% before the bell. The electric vehicle maker alleged efforts to spread misinformation and manipulate market sentiment.

DocuSign added 2.7% as the e-Signature product provider beat second-quarter results estimates and raised its annual revenue forecast.

(Reporting by Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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