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Wall Street opens lower ahead of this week’s inflation data

FILE - The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in New York. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street Friday, Aug. 5, following much stronger than expected hiring data from the Labor Department.(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street led by a steep drop for Norwegian Cruise Line. The S&P 500 is off 0.2% just after the opening bell Tuesday and the Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average are also falling. Norwegian plunged after it reported disappointing second-quarter results. Investors are keen for two reports on prices due later this week, which could signal whether the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes this year have brought inflation under control. Audience rating company Nielsen is surging after it announced progress on a deal to be acquired by private equity firms.

Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 lost 0.3% while futures for the Dow industrials rose about 0.2% with less than an hour before the opening bell.

The U.S. Labor Department will release its July report for consumer prices Wednesday, followed by its producer prices report on Thursday. Investors and economists will look for any signs that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes the past few months have helped to bring four-decade-high inflation under control.

Last week’s strong July jobs report has most economists predicting the Fed will jack up rates again — possibly by as much as another three-quarters of a point — at its September meeting. Investors fear the Fed’s actions could lead to a recession, as the U.S. economy has contracted the last two quarters.

The Fed has raised rates four times this year, twice by three-quarters of a point.

The earnings season is beginning to wind down and Disney, Wendy’s and Wynn Resorts will be reporting quarterly results this week.

Norwegian Cruise Lines fell 8.5% in premarket, dragging other cruise companies with it, after reporting a much wider loss than expected and it warned that negative trends will continue. . Norwegian lost $509.3 million in its second quarter as sales also fell short of expectations.

Fighting in the Ukraine and attacks on Europe’s biggest nuclear plant are other factors hanging over markets.

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling a nuclear power plant in Russia-occupied southeastern Ukraine, attacks that have fueled international concerns. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has six nuclear reactors, and the fighting around it has raised the danger of a nuclear accident.

France’s CAC 40 fell 0.5%, while Germany’s DAX tumbled 1.2%. Britain’s FTSE 100 was essentially unchanged.

In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped nearly 0.9% to finish at 27,999.96.

Japan’s technology investor SoftBank Group Corp. dropped more than 7%. On Monday it reported a record quarterly loss of $23 billion. A global nose-dive of technology-related issues, such as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has weighed on its sprawling portfolio of investments.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.1% to 7,029.80. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.4% higher to 2,503.46.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng erased earlier gains, falling 0.2% to 20,003.44, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.3% to 3,247.43.

Analysts monitoring Asian markets said regional tensions remain a risk because of the flareup between China and Taiwan after the recent visit of U.S. House Speak Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

China has said it’s extending threatening military exercises surrounding Taiwan, disrupting shipping and air traffic and raising up a notch worries about trade.

“It is worth keeping track of the geopolitical landscape as any major developments on the China/Taiwan front could impact overall risk demand. China confirmed it would extend military drills around Taiwan, and the military will conduct ‘regular’ exercises on the eastern side of the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” said Anderson Alves at ActivTrades.

Also of concern are the rising cases of COVID-19 in China, Japan and some other Asian nations, and their potential impact on supply chains that are a lifeline to some of the region’s biggest manufacturers.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.09 to $91.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added $1.89 to $90.76 a barrel on Monday.

Brent crude, the international standard for pricing crude, gained $1.25 to $97.90 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched up to 135.02 Japanese yen from 134.98 yen. The euro cost $1.0238, up slightly from $1.0193.

Technology stocks were the biggest drag Monday on Wall Street. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,140.06 and the Nasdaq shed 0.1% to 12,644.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.1% higher, at 32,832.54. The Russell 2000 rose 1% to 1,941.21.

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