Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. All eyes on inflation indicator
U.S. stock futures inched higher Thursday morning as investors hope the major averages notch a fifth straight positive session. Inflation data, and what it portends for Federal Reserve interest rate policy in the central bank’s November decision, will shape the markets on the day. The consumer price index for September is due at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect a 0.3% month over month increase and a 3.6% year over year jump. Investors will also be watching the war between Israel and Hamas. Follow live market updates here.
2. Top U.S. diplomat lands in Israel
The death toll in the Middle East conflict is rising. At least 1,200 people have died in Israel, and more than 1,200 people have died in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to officials. Israel, a day after forming an emergency government, said it will not lift a siege of the Gaza Strip until hostages taken by Hamas are returned. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived Thursday in Israel, where he plans to meet with government officials. The State Department said he will “discuss measures to bolster Israel’s security and underscore the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself.” Follow live updates here.
3. Scalise in the spotlight
House Republicans have their choice for speaker. GOP lawmakers nominated Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., for the chamber’s top post, as he defeated Judiciary Committee chair and hardline conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. Scalise will now have to win over a handful of holdouts in a notoriously prickly Republican caucus — which ousted ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy this month — to secure the job in a House floor vote, where all Democrats will likely oppose his candidacy. The vote could take place as soon as Thursday. The speaker vacancy comes as Congress decides how to respond to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and as the U.S. faces a Nov. 17 deadline to prevent a lapse in government funding. On Wednesday, Scalise told reporters, “We got to get back to work today.”
4. High rates here to stay
Get comfortable with lofty interest rates. Federal Reserve officials agreed during their September meeting that rates will need to stay high until inflation approaches the central bank’s 2% target. Some policymakers disagreed on just how much more they will have to tighten monetary policy to get price increases under control. At the meeting, where the Fed decided against an increase, a majority of officials felt one more rate hike “would likely be appropriate” in the future, according to minutes. The central bank has faced a difficult balancing act: it aims to tamp down demand, and massive increases in the cost of rent, food and a range of other essentials, without driving the economy into a recession. At the same time, the soaring rates have made borrowing more difficult for people looking for a house or a car.
5. UAW ups the ante
United Auto Workers is ramping up its strike against Ford Motor. In a surprise move Wednesday evening, the union expanded its work stoppage to a highly profitable SUV and truck plant in Kentucky that employs 8,700 UAW members. UAW said it called the strike after Ford “refused to make further movement in bargaining,” calling the action a “new phase” in the labor movement. The union has lodged targeted strikes against the three major Detroit automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, for nearly a month. Ford called the strike expansion “grossly irresponsible.”
– CNBC’s Hakyung Kim, Ruxandra Iordache, Spencer Kimball, Emily Wilkins, Jeff Cox and Michael Wayland contributed to this report.
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