The stock market may be losing one of its leaders heading into the release of key inflation reports next week that could clarify the path of future monetary policy. August’s consumer price report is due next Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Apple suffered a down week following reports that China plans to expand a ban on the use of iPhones in government agencies and state-owned companies. The iconic smart phone maker has rallied more than 37% this year, but is off by roughly 10% from its July highs. This week, it lost almost 6%, dipping back below its 50-day moving average. For investors, that raised fears that the mega-cap tech stock that’s the largest in the S & P 500 Index could be breaking – a bearish signal for the broader market. “I think those large cap names, Apple at the forefront, are starting to feel the effects of the weakening momentum beneath the surface,” said Rob Ginsberg, managing director at Wolfe Research. At the same time, the major benchmarks logged a losing week on Friday . This week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed about 0.8%, while the S & P 500 was lower by 1.3% and the Nasdaq Composite by roughly 1.9%. Apple is set to hold its September product event, called “Wonderlust,” next week, where it’s widely anticipated to unveil the iPhone 15. With a near $3 trillion market capitalization, the company led by CEO Tim Cook accounts for more than 7% of the S & P 500 all by itself — more than Amazon and Nvidia combined. Apple weakness However, even after Apple’s drop this week, some investors expect to see further declines in Apple because of deteriorating stock price momentum. In fact, they expect shares could start testing their longer-term supports. “Is Apple finally breaking? The signs are building, as [Wednesday’s] selloff took place right after the stock filled the gap that developed post-earnings,” Wolfe Research’s Ginsberg wrote in a note. “As you know, we’re huge fans of relative performance, which is why the negative divergence on the stock’s July 17th high only raises our suspicions.” Ginsberg expects Apple will move to challenge its 200-day moving average in the low $160 range. Apple shares closed Thursday at roughly $177, or about $13 above its 200-day moving average of $163.91. Still, Ginsberg anticipates Apple can bottom out later this month along with the broader market, hopefully setting up investors for an end-of-year rally. But Ginsberg wasn’t the only observer who was short-term bearish on Apple this week. Tech investor Dan Niles said Thursday he sold his Apple shares and started betting against the stock . “Sold $AAPL & now our largest single stock short,” the Satori Fund founder and senior portfolio manager wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. Fears of sticky inflation According to Wolfe’s Ginsberg, the deterioration in Apple shares is just one piece of the puzzle pointing to trouble for the equity market ahead of next week’s inflation report. Over the past three months, the price of oil has moved up. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures were last hovering around $87 a barrel, up more than 20% from roughly $70 a barrel at the start of June. ICE Brent Crude futures are above $90 a barrel, about 20% higher than three months ago. In foreign exchange markets, the dollar has been strengthening. On Friday, it notched its longest weekly win streak since 2014 . @CL.1 3M mountain WTI Crude 3-month And the U.S. labor market continues to show signs of strength. This week, initial weekly jobless claims data on Thursday came in below expectations, below 230,000. Signs of a resilient U.S. economy that’s skirting a recession are raising investor fears the Federal Reserve still has further to go in tamping down inflation, and could raise rates once more this year. “Those are little underlying factors that we believe are going to make inflation numbers sticky,” leading to “at least one more rate hike for this year,” said Alex McGrath, investment chief at NorthEnd Private Wealth. Traders are near certain the Fed will pause in September, but are betting on a roughly 44% likelihood the central bank could hike by 25 basis points in November, according to the CME FedWatch Tool . The August CPI report For investors, the August consumer price index that’s set for release next Wednesday is crucial, and is the last major inflation report the Fed will get before its September meeting. Economists polled by FactSet anticipate the headline number will have risen 3.2% year over year, in line with the increase in July. Meanwhile, core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is expected to have climbed 4.3% on a year-over-year basis, slower than the previous reading of a 4.7% increase. A hotter-than-expected price report will likely add to investor concern over sticky inflation and tighter monetary policy, weighing on equities. On the other hand, a surprisingly cool report could buoy investors and send stocks higher. When it comes to the technical setup for equities, Wolfe’s Ginsberg expects a few weeks of choppiness before equities can “try to find their footing.” He expects stocks could bottom out in late September or early October, setting them up for a year-end rally. Meanwhile, August retail sales as well as August producer prices are set for release next Thursday. Elsewhere, the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract with the Big Three automakers General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis is set to expire on Thursday. The UAW has said it will strike if an agreement isn’t reached. Week ahead calendar All times ET. Monday Sept. 11 Earnings: Oracle Tuesday Sept. 12 6 a.m. NFIB Small Business Index (August) Wednesday Sept. 13 8:30 a.m. Consumer Price Index (August) 8:30 a.m. Hourly Earnings final (August) 8:30 a.m. Average Workweek final (August) 8:30 a.m. Treasury Budget (August) Thursday Sept. 14 8:30 a.m. Continuing Jobless Claims (09/02) 8:30 a.m. Initial Claims (09/09) 8:30 a.m. Producer Price Index (August) 8:30 a.m. Retail Sales (August) 10 a.m. Business Inventories (July) Earnings: Lennar , Adobe , Copart Friday Sept. 15 8:30 a.m. Export Price Index (August) 8:30 a.m. Import Price Index (August) 8:30 a.m. Empire State Index (September) 9:15 a.m. Capacity Utilization (August) 9:15 a.m. Industrial Production (August) 9:15 a.m. Manufacturing Production (August) 10 a.m. Michigan Sentiment preliminary (September) — CNBC’s Michael Bloom and Gabriel Cortes contributed to this report.