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Summer Trading Ahead of CPI Report: Pre-Markets Flat to Down

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

While many economic prints released before the opening bell of a normal trading day are forward-looking — or at least signify actions to come, such as tomorrow’s CPI read indicating whether the Fed will keep raising interest rates aggressively — others, like this morning’s Q2 Productivity, are puzzle pieces to be placed in our rear view. We see a preliminary non-farm -4.6% in Q2 Productivity, better than the -5% expected and the -7.3% from Q1, which was the worst productivity report since 1947.

Meanwhile, Q2 Unit Labor Costs rose higher than expected, to +10.8% from an upwardly revised +12.7% the previous quarter. For further perspective, we’re also lower than the record-high +13.8% we saw in Q4 2020. Many of these figures are historic anomalies, coming as they did during the biggest global pandemic in 100 years.

Also, they help put into context what we’ve just lived through: negative GDP for two straight quarters with exceptionally strong labor growth. This adds up to weak productivity and steep costs on the employment side, both of which are borne out with this data. It won’t do much to inform, say, what the Fed will do about interest rates when it meets again in the second-half of September, but it helps clarify a few things for us to move forward.

Tomorrow’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), on the other hand, will be a tremendous look into what options are on the table for the Fed next month: analysts expect headline to cool moderately to +8.7% CPI year over year and buoy slightly to +6.1% on core, demonstrating how “transitory” inflation eventually makes its way into deeper realms of the economy over time. A big drop on either or both of these numbers, while highly likely still way out of range from optimal inflation rates, may surge markets in expectation the Fed may slow their roll in raising rates.

President Biden is expected to sign the so-called Chips Act today, allotting $79 billion in incentives toward building semiconductor plants in the U.S., and upwards of $200 building in overall capacity spending. This is obviously a direct reaction to pandemic-oriented supply chain constraints from over-reliance on chips made on the Pacific Rim, and can also be seen as a positive to national security, especially considering China’s recent attitude toward Taiwan.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH - Free Report) missed estimates on both top and bottom lines in its Q2 earnings report, with -$1.22 per share reported on $1.19 billion in revenues, worse than the -82 cents per share expected and $1.26 billion. Still, it was a big lift year over year, especially on the top line, where this morning’s figure is way up from pandemic level of $4.4 million. Guidance remains positive for the second half of 2022, but shares are -8% at this hour in the pre-market. For more on NCLH's earnings, click here.

Canadian cannabis supplier Cronos Group (CRON - Free Report) also reported Q2 results this morning, beating by a penny of the bottom line to a loss of -5 cents per share, while missing on the top line: $23.1 million versus $27.67 million in the Zacks consensus. But small growth companies in nascent industries are always tough to predict; the main takeaways from this report are things like the +212% growth in net revenue from Israel, as cannabis consumption goes worldwide. Shares are selling off -9% in the pre-market.

Overall, pre-market futures are flat-to-down this morning, with the Dow unched at this minute, the S&P 500 -9 points and the Nasdaq -75, marking a negative tech bias after a strong period of trading off the June bottoms. But with expectations about summer-month trading and a pending CPI report Wednesday, we don’t expect much by way of big market moves today, based on what we currently know.

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