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5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday, May 15

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Up but cautious

Stocks rose Tuesday as investors waited for more economic data. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.75%, enough to hit a fresh closing record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 126.60 points, or 0.32%, and the S&P 500 rose 0.48%. Traders reacted as April’s producer price index, a gauge of prices received at the wholesale level, came in above estimates on Wednesday, but the March reading was revised downward to show a 0.1% decline. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also spoke Wednesday, reiterating that it was unlikely the central bank would raise rates but that Fed members would need to practice patience. Follow live market updates.

2. Some sign of relief?

A customer shops for food at a grocery store on March 12, 2024 in San Rafael, California. 

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Could we finally see some improvements in inflation? The latest reading of the closely watched consumer price index is coming out Wednesday morning. Prices for all items are projected to show a 0.4% gain on the month, the same as in March, according to a Dow Jones consensus forecast. But the annual rate is expected to show a slight improvement, with forecasts expecting it to edge lower to 3.4%, compared with the 3.5% reading in the previous month. The consensus also foresees improvements in the important core measure that excludes food and energy.

3. AI competition heats up

Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes to the stage at the Google I/O developer conference. 

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

The AI race is hotter than ever. Google used its annual developer conference, Google I/O, to tout its most powerful artificial intelligence models so far. The company said its new Gemini 1.5 Flash model can quickly summarize conversations, caption images and videos, and extract data from large documents and tables. Google also recently announced an improved Gemini 1.5 Pro model, which can make sense of up to 1,500 pages total or summarize 100 emails, according to a vice president working on the project. The unveiling comes a day after competitor OpenAI announced its newest AI model, GPT-4o. Meanwhile, OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever said Tuesday that he’s leaving the Microsoft-backed startup.

4. More Boeing scrutiny

The exterior of the Boeing Company headquarters is seen on March 25, 2024 in Arlington, Virginia.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Boeing violated a 2021 settlement that had protected the company from criminal charges over two fatal crashes of the 737 Max, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. Such a violation could potentially open the company to U.S. prosecution. It has 30 days to respond to the Department of Justice, which said Boeing failed to set up and enforce a compliance and ethics program to detect violations of U.S. fraud laws. Boeing denied those claims. It paid $2.5 billion in January 2021 and admitted that two of its 737 Max technical pilots “deceived” the Federal Aviation Administration about the capabilities of a flight-control system on the planes.

5. Return to Arkansas

Walmart megastore exterior and logo sign, Denver, North Carolina.

Ucg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

Walmart is laying off and transferring hundreds of corporate employees to its Arkansas headquarters. The big-box retailer’s Chief People Officer Donna Morris said in a memo that the move is meant to bring more employees back to the office after the Covid-19 pandemic. Walmart employees officially returned to the office in February 2022. But now, the majority of employees working remotely and in offices in Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto have been asked to relocate, according to the memo. The company is currently building a new headquarters in its hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart is set to release a much-anticipated earnings report on Thursday.

— CNBC’s Lisa Kailai Han, Jeff Cox, Jennifer Elias, Sara Salinas and Melissa Repko contributed to this report.

— Follow broader market action like a pro on CNBC Pro.

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