Subdued Trading Ahead of the Bell after Fast-Paced July

NEW YORK — Wall Street is subdued before the bell Monday on the first day of trading in August after the markets’ best month since November 2020.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials are flat and futures for the S&P 500 are up 0.1% ahead of another trove of corporate earnings this week and the government’s July jobs report on Friday.

The rally to end the month took place despite mixed corporate earnings reports and new data showing inflation jumped by the most in four decades last month.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1.9%, ending the month 12.4% higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and notched a 6.7% gain for the month. The Russell 2000 rose 0.7%, ending July with a 10.4% gain. The S&P 500 index, a benchmark for many stock funds, rose 1.4% and finished 9.1% higher for July.

Weak economic data, including a report Thursday showing that the U.S. economy contracted last quarter and could be in a recession, have also spurred stocks higher by giving some investors confidence that the Federal Reserve will be able to dial back its aggressive pace of rate hikes sooner than expected.

The central bank raised its key short-term interest rate by 0.75 percentage points on Wednesday, to the highest level since 2018. The Fed is raising rates in a bid to slow the U.S. economy and quell inflation.

An inflation gauge that is closely tracked by the Federal Reserve jumped 6.8% in June from a year ago, the biggest increase in four decades, leaving Americans with no relief from surging prices. On a month-to-month basis, inflation accelerated to 1% in June from May’s 0.6% monthly increase, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Inflation in Europe also surged in July, hitting 8.9% in the 19 European countries that use the euro currency.

At midday Monday, Germany’s DAX and Britain’s FTSE 100 each gained 0.6% while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.5%.

Shares in Asia finished higher, though the latest manufacturing surveys showed weakening factory activity in Asia’s two biggest economies: China and Japan.

Chinese manufacturing’s recovery from anti-virus shutdowns faltered in July as activity sank, a survey showed Sunday, adding to pressure on the struggling economy in a politically sensitive year when President Xi Jinping is expected to try to extend his time in power.

Factory activity was depressed by weak global demand and anti-virus controls that are weighing on domestic consumer spending, according to the national statistics agency and an official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing.

“The country was already facing an uphill challenge, to put it mildly, with regard to its growth target this year and the fact that manufacturing activity is slowing again doesn’t bode well,” Craig Erlam of Oanda said in a commentary.

A similar survey of purchasing managers, the au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing PMI, slipped to 52.1 in July from 52.7 in June, the slowest growth in the sector in 10 months, as costs of energy and labor rose. The survey measures various components on a scale up to 100, with readings above 50 indicating expansion.

Shares in Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba fell 3.8% in Hong Kong on Monday, helping pull the Hang Seng lower. The company announced it wants to keep its shares listed in both New York and Hong Kong, days after U.S. regulators included it in a list of companies that may be delisted for not complying with auditing requirements.

In other trading early Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost $3.54 to $95.08 per barrel. It jumped $2.20 to $98.62 on Friday. Brent crude oil, the basis for pricing international oils, lost $2.81 to $101.16 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 132.44 Japanese yen from 133.25 yen. The euro rose to $1.0232 from $1.0223.

Shares in Boeing rose nearly 5% in off-hours trading after the aerospace company cleared a key hurdle with federal regulators and could soon resume deliveries of its large 787 airliner, a person familiar with the matter said Saturday. The 787 has been plagued by a series of production issues since late 2020.

Airbnb, Starbucks, CVS Health and DoorDash are among the companies reporting quarterly financial results this week.


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