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Kroger Results, Producer Prices, Inventory: 3 Things to Watch

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By Dhirendra Tripathi

Investing.com -- Stocks dropped back a bit on Thursday after weekly jobless claims fell to a near 18-month low, easing fears of a delay in the economic recovery but flaming worries about the end of stimulus.

The Labor Department’s weekly data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the lowest level since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic began.

The Federal Reserve meets later this month for its next policy debate, though many believe it won’t announce a beginning of tapering off its bond purchases until later this year.

Tepid data on hiring in August, plus evidence of a pull back in travel and dining out after a surge in coronavirus cases this summer are competing with news about rising prices.

In individual stocks, vaccine makers got a boost on Thursday ahead of President Joe Biden’s expected announcement that federal workers and contractors who work with the federal government would need to be vaccinated.

Biden is urging more employers across the country to institute vaccine requirements for employees, as well, and encouraging testing protocols. Many companies, including Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), have further postponed the date when employees would be brought back into their offices to work.

Friday should be a quiet day for the markets, as Wall Street and the U.S. pause to reflect on the passage of 20 years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Here are three things that could affect markets tomorrow:

1. Grocery chain earnings

Grocery chain giant Kroger Company (NYSE:KR) is expected to report earnings per share of 63 cents on revenue of $30.63 billion in the second quarter. Analysts will be listening to the company’s comments about hiring and labor conditions as well as rising food prices and logistical challenges.

2. Producer prices

U.S. producer or wholesale prices, a measure of inflation before goods and services reach the end-consumer, are likely to have cooled in August, expected to rise by 0.6% after the 1% jump in July. Before this, the index had risen in back-to-back months.

The so-called core inflation at the wholesale level, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, is expected to show a gain of 0.5% in August after it also rose 1% in the prior month. Both reports are out at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT).

3. Inventories at wholesalers

The U.S. Census Bureau will Friday release its data total inventories at merchant wholesalers. They had risen 0.6% to $636.3 billion in July. That report comes out at 10:00 AM ET.

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