Stock-index futures pointed to a lower start Monday, with concerns about the global spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 getting much of the blame as investors prepared for another big week of corporate earnings.
What are major indexes doing?
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
fell 502 points, or 1.5%, to 34,062.
S&P 500 futures
were down 51.85 points, or 1.2%, at 4,266.75.
dropped 140.25 points, or 1%, to 14,530.25.
Stocks ended lower Friday, with all three major indexes down for the week, ending a string of three, consecutive weekly wins. The Dow
saw a 0.5% weekly decline, while the S&P 500
slid 1% and the Nasdaq Composite
What’s driving the market?
Pressure on global equity markets Monday was attributed largely to the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 cases world-wide.
“Markets seem to be grappling with the fear that the virus isn’t going away despite widespread vaccinations in the major economies,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note.
“New and more resilient mutations might be a perpetual phenomenon that wreaks havoc, especially in developing countries, ultimately keeping a lid on the recovery,” he said. “The overwhelming firepower from governments and central banks was enough to fight the pandemic, but not enough to annihilate it.”
Concerns about the virus are particularly problematic for sectors and industries, such as travel, that were expected to benefit the most from the reopening of the global economy.
Meanwhile, Treasurys continued to rally, keeping pressure on yields, which move in the opposite direction of prices. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
was down more than 7 basis points near 1.228%, hitting its lowest since mid-February.
“In the week ahead, investors will likely regard a further weakening of bond yields as a potential ‘canary in the coal mine,’” potentially overshadowing earnings season, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, in a note.
“In an attempt to divine this message, the market may dismiss future better-than-expected EPS (earning sper share) growth as symptomatic of the transition from the windward to the leeward slope of the current EPS cycle as it passes its peak, resulting in increased volatility,” he said.
Earnings season picks up steam this week, with nearly a third of the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average components and more than 80 S&P 500 companies are expected to report in the week ahead. Performance so far this quarter has been strong, with 85% of S&P 500 companies that have reported beating expectations and none providing guidance lower than expectations so far, according to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet.
Oil prices were sliding, with the U.S. benchmark
down 3.8% to trade below $69 a barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, agreed on Sunday to a deal that will ease output curbs. Major producers will add 400,000 barrels a day in production each month beginning in August until existing curbs totaling 5.8 million barrels a day are erased later next year.
A busy week of housing data kicks off with the July reading of the National Association of Home Builders index at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Which companies are in focus?
Shares of Five9 Inc.
surged more than 8% in premarket trading after the announcement of a $14.7 billion all-stock buyout deal by Zoom Video Communications Inc. ZM, over the weekend. Zoom shares slumped 2%.
Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings
said Monday that it was abandoning a deal to buy a 10% stake in Universal Music Group, citing regulatory and shareholder concerns. PSTH shares were up marginally in premarket trade Monday.
Cal-Maine Foods Inc.
reported Monday a surprise fiscal fourth-quarter loss and revenue that fell below expectations, with egg sales dropping as the lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions led to less meals prepared at home. Shares were down 0.2%.