Investing.com -- The release of key U.S. inflation data on Wednesday is in focus, as investors attempt to gauge how the numbers could impact Federal Reserve interest policy decisions. Elsewhere, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) unveils incremental changes to its all-important iPhone device, while Arm reportedly gears up to price its initial public offering at the top end of its indicated range.
1. Futures edge lower ahead of key inflation data
U.S. stock futures inched lower on Wednesday, but stayed relatively close to the flatline, as traders awaited the release of crucial inflation figures later in the session that could help determine the path ahead for Federal Reserve monetary policy.
All three of the main indices slumped in the prior session, with the Nasdaq Composite in particular shedding 144 points or 1.0%. A drop in shares in business software group Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) following a disappointing current-quarter revenue outlook, as well as a decline in Apple stock after the tech giant's annual fall hardware event, weighed on equity markets.
2. CPI seen accelerating in August
Attention now turns to the publication of the U.S. consumer price index (CPI), a major gauge of price gains, for August.
Fed officials and markets alike will likely be keeping a close eye on the data, which may impact how the central bank will approach interest rate decisions over the rest of the year.
Economists expect the pace of annual headline inflation in the world's largest economy to have picked up to 3.6% during the month from 3.2% in July, while the month-on-month CPI is projected to accelerate to 0.6% from 0.2%, due in large part to a recent uptick in energy prices.
Corraling elevated inflation has been a major objective of the Fed's nearly year-and-a-half long campaign of interest rate hikes. Policymakers are widely tipped to skip further tightening at their upcoming meeting this month, but uncertainty still remains over what they may choose to do later on in 2023. Wednesday's CPI print may bring some clarity to the matter.
3. Apple's incremental hardware update
Shares in Apple dipped on Tuesday after the tech giant revealed four new iPhone models at its annual hardware refresher, but refrained from launching major updates to the flagship device's design or software.
One of the most notable revisions to the latest iPhone 15 gadget is the first-ever inclusion of a universal USB-C charging port. Apple was under pressure to build in the feature in order to comply with European Union law that sets a common charging standard for all smartphones and portable electronic devices.
Pricing, meanwhile, remained at broadly the same levels as last year, although the cost of the iPhone 15 Pro Max was effectively bumped up $100 to $1,199 as Apple attempts to extract more money out of the top-of-the-line model.
The world's most valuable company has been moving to stem a slide in revenues in the last three quarters that has been linked to a slowdown in the global smartphone market. Concerns are also rising around Apple's demand and production in China following reports that government officials have been asked not to use iPhones for work. Meanwhile, Chinese rival Huawei has unveiled its own updated smartphone, threatening the California group's market share in the country.
4. Final pricing of Arm IPO expected - Reuters
Arm has reportedly secured enough investor backing to at least price its much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) at the top end of its indicated range, giving the British chip designer a fully diluted valuation of $54.5 billion.
According to a source quoted by Reuters, Arm chose to accept only the top end of its target band of $47 to $51 a share -- or an even higher price -- after reviewing a round of investor commitments. The company will decide how much it wants to sell its shares on Wednesday, Reuters said, citing the unnamed person and a second source.
Shares in Arm are currently set to begin trading in New York on Thursday.
Arm's IPO is expected to be the largest in almost two years. Strong demand for the flotation may also add fuel to the resurgent market for listings in the U.S., which had gone relatively dormant as firms shelved plans to go public due to worries over uncertain economic conditions. This week, e-commerce group Instacart, marketing automation company Klaviyo, and sandal maker Birkenstock have all teed up their own IPO plans.
5. Looney steps down as BP chief
Bernard Looney has resigned as Chief Executive Officer of BP (LON: BP ) (NYSE: BP ) over a failure to disclose all details surrounding his personal relationships with internal colleagues, the oil major announced.
In a statement, BP said Looney admitted that he was "not fully transparent" in prior disclosures made about these relationships. The 53-year old also conceded that "he did not provide details of all relationships and accepts he was obligated to make more complete disclosure."
Chief Financial Officer Murray Auchincloss will replace Looney on an interim basis. London-listed shares in BP were lower in early trading on Wednesday.
The departure raises questions around BP's future strategy, which had largely centered around a push into green energy that was spearheaded by Looney. Executives have previously said that the business would continue to transition away from fossil fuels even as a spike in crude prices after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine boosted annual profits to record levels in 2022.
Following a dip in oil prices earlier this year, the main benchmarks are now sitting close to their highest marks since last November. By 05:23 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $89.39 a barrel, while the Brent contract climbed 0.6% to $92.58.
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