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All eyes on US CPI data, ASX gives up early gains

gas and petrol and diesel pumps at a service station

The S&P/ASX 200 lost much of the early 0.9% gain seen at the start of the day, with profit taking ahead of the US CPI data scheduled for release tonight US time and US futures mixed. The index closed up 0.3% at 7288.50.

Locally, banking giant NAB said growth levels and emerging inflationary pressures present challenges. In its first quarter, cash earnings rose 12% to $1.8bn, but net interest margin dropped 5 basis points (bps) to 1.64%. Revenue rose 8% and expenses were up 2%, reflecting higher salaries and leave costs, combined with investment to support growth, the bank said in a statement to the ASX. Shares closed 4.5% higher.

ASX Limited CEO Dominic Stevens will retire this year. It said for the half year ending December 31, underlying net profit after tax was $250.3m, up 3.5% on a year ago, and declared an interim dividend of $1.112 a share. Capex is still expected to be $105-$115m for the financial year, but expenses have been revised up to a 7-8% increase from 5-7% previously forecast. Shares closed down 3.8%.

Financial services company AMP reported a full-year net loss of $252m for 2021, driven by impairment charges, transformation costs and remediation expenses. Shares closed up 5.5%.

US inflation data

The US government expects January inflation data will show another lofty spike, saying an above 7% reading "would not be a surprise". Consumer prices rose by 7% throughout 2021, the fastest pace in four decades. The US Labor Department's consumer price index (CPI) data is set for release on Thursday (US time). Many economists expect the price surge to moderate over the course of 2022 as the shortages and delays are sorted out, and as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and ends its easy money policies intended to support the economy during the pandemic.

The Aussie dollar is higher at US71.69c against the US dollar.

Bitcoin is down, at $US43,751.

Gold is stronger at $US1833.88 an ounce.

Brent crude oil is slightly up around $US91.94 a barrel.

WTI crude oil is steady at $US89.85 a barrel.

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