U.S. stock futures pointed to anemic gains on Wednesday, as equities slipped in Asia amid COVID-19 concerns and European shares were mixed following indications of slowing growth in the region’s largest economy.

What’s happening

Dow industrials
YM00,
+0.02%

futures were pointing up around 15 points;

S&P 500
ES00,
+0.04%

futures indicated an open less than 0.1% higher;

Nasdaq 100
NQ00,
+0.06%

futures suggested the tech-heavy index would open 0.15% into the green.

On Tuesday, the Dow
DJIA,
+0.09%

climbed 30 points to end at 35,366, while the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.15%

closed at another daily record at 4,486 and the Nasdaq
COMP,
+0.52%

topped 15,000 points for the first time.

What’s driving markets?

The macro factors swaying markets remain mostly unchanged, with investor focus centering on how central banks will react to a weakening outlook for global growth amid resurgences of COVID-19 and against a backdrop of recent spikes in inflation.

“This week’s rebound in stocks has been largely predicated on last week’s shift in tone by Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, in suggesting he could shift his position on a taper if the economic data deteriorated, a not unreasonable position to take,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at broker CMC Markets.

But an injection of news came Tuesday, as House Democrats approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution and advanced the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“While the process has been protracted, yesterday showed that the fiscal-stimulus-train remains on track for the U.S. economy for the time being, and we should have a better idea of exactly how large the final package will be in a matter of weeks,” said Henry Allen, an analyst at Deutsche Bank.

In Asia, “risk appetite has weakened with markets trading lower for the most part” noted Allen, highlighting that Japan will extend a state of emergency due to Covid-19 to eight more of its 47 prefectures, bringing the total number under restrictions lasting until mid-September to 21.

A Bank of Japan policymaker also warned that the global semiconductor shortage could last through the rest of 2021 if Southeast Asian factories remain shuttered due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Toyoaki Nakamur underscored the risk that supply constraints pose to the global economy—just days after local auto giant Toyota announced new production cuts due to the chip shortage.

The weakness of Germany’s leading index relative to European peers came as the Ifo business climate index for Europe’s largest economy declined for the second month in a row in August. “Germany’s leading indicator joins the choir of recently released leading indicators pointing to a loss of momentum in the German economy,” said Carsten Brzeski, an analyst at ING bank.

The headline economic event of the week will come Friday, when Fed chair Jerome Powell speaks at the Jackson Hole economic symposium. Investors will closely watch Powell’s speech for indications of when the central bank will begin slowing its pandemic-era asset purchases, which have added liquidity to markets.

Other markets

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225
NIK,
-0.03%

fell 0.03%, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index
HSI,
-0.13%

slipped 0.13% and the Shanghai Composite
SHCOMP,
+0.74%

rose 0.74%

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100
UKX,
+0.35%

was 0.2% higher as the pan-European Stoxx 600
SXXP,
+0.06%

lifted 0.1%. France’s CAC 40
PX1,
+0.24%

inched 0.2% higher as Frankfurt’s DAX
DAX,
-0.13%

slipped 0.1%

Crude prices have consolidated gains made over the last two days—when the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index clinched its best two-day performance in over a year—with international benchmark Brent crude
BRN00,
+0.56%

holding steady above $70.50 a barrel

“Meme” stocks are back in the spotlight, with GameStop
GME,
+27.53%

rising more than 27% Tuesday while AMC
AMC,
+20.34%

stock climbed 20%. Shares in both companies were moving slightly higher again in premarket trading

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