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Stock futures slip Friday as inflation data, Fed officials’ comments worry investors

U.S. stock futures slipped on Friday as inflation concerns continue to rattle investors.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell by 178 points, or 0.5%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures dipped by 0.7% and 1%, respectively.

The major averages all shed more than 1% on Thursday, after the Labor Department said the producer price index — an inflation metric that tracks wholesale prices — rose 0.7% las month. That was more than economists expected.

Stocks were also under pressure following comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard. He said he backed a 50 basis point interest rate hike at the central bank’s previous meeting and that he would not rule out a rate increase of that magnitude at the March meeting.

Fed commentary aside, consumers have been a key focal point for investors this week, particularly in light of the latest round of inflation and retail sales data.

“I think the equity market is listening to data about the consumer that’s concurrent — that there’s retail spending that bounced back, that consumer confidence bounced back, and that services PMI bounced out of contraction. There are things to be happy about — the labor market is still tight,” SoFi’s head of investment strategy Liz Young said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime.”

“But what I think the equity market is not pricing in at this point, or is not worried enough about, is that the consumer spending at some point. Savings run dry, and wage growth is falling, and it can’t support that level of spending going forward. Debt is piling up,” added Young.

The major indexes are mixed ahead of Friday’s session. The Dow is down 0.51% for the week. The 30-stock index is on pace for its third negative week in a row — a first since September. The Nasdaq is up 1.18% for the week, on track for its sixth week of gains in seven. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is flat.

Investors will watch Fed officials for more hints on the central bank’s rate-hiking campaign. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin will be speaking about the labor market on Friday . Fed Governor Michelle Bowman is also taking part in a discussion at the Tennessee Bankers Association’s credit conference.

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