Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures point slightly higher as S&P 500 nears record territory

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Stock-index futures traded higher Monday as investors look ahead to another busy week of earnings and a Federal Reserve policy meeting that’s expected to deliver another cut to interest rates. Meanwhile, another busy week looms for corporate earnings.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ19, +0.32%  rose 87 points, or 0.3%, to 26,991, while S&P 500 futures ESZ19, +0.26%  gained 7.95 points, or 0.3%, to trade at 3,028.25. Nasdaq-100 futures NQZ19, +0.34%  were 28 points higher at 8,064.25, a gain of 0.4%.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.41%  ended Friday with a gain of 12.26 points or 0.4%, at 3,022.55, just 0.1% away from its record finish of 3,025.86 set on July 26. The index briefly traded above its all-time closing high before trimming gains. The large-cap index saw a 1.2% weekly rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.57%  logged a 0.7% gain last week to end Friday at 26,958.06, while the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.70%  saw a 1.9% weekly advance to finish at 8,243.12.

What’s driving the market?

Expectations around U.S.-China trade talks remain a positive force for the market, analysts said. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Friday released a statement that said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Friday and were close to finalizing some sections of an agreement with Chinese negotiators.

Optimism around trade helped lift Asian and European equity markets early Monday, said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

Investors have also reacted positively to earnings season. Through Friday, 40% of companies in the S&P 500 had reported third-quarter results, with the percentage topping estimates — 80% — running above the five-year average, according to FactSet. However, in aggregate companies reported earnings 3.8% above estimates, which is below the five-year average.

“Binary earning surprises continue to favor the bulls so far this season,” said Jeff deGraaf, chairman of Renaissance Macro Research, in a note. “Maybe the bar was lowered, thus spotting the earning season a few field goals, but better or worse is more important in this business than good or bad.”

Meanwhile, with the market on the verge of a new high, the broad S&P 1500 index doesn’t look dangerously overbought, he said.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to deliver another quarter-point cut to its benchmark interest rate when policy makers conclude a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

Read: 3 things to watch when the Fed meets this week

Related: Why would the Fed cut interest rates a 3rd time even as stocks near records?

Investors also continue to watch developments around Britain’s efforts to complete a deal dictating the terms of its exit from the European Union. The EU on Monday agreed to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 — agreeing to the postponement just three days ahead of the previously scheduled Oct. 31 departure date.

Meanwhile, U.K. lawmakers were expected to vote later Monday on whether to hold an early election in an effort to break parliamentary deadlock over Brexit. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking a Dec. 12 election, but faces an uphill battle in Parliament.

The economic calendar features September data on advance trade in goods. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch look for the deficit to widen to $73.7 billion from $72.8 billion a month earlier.

What companies are in focus?

Shares of AT&T Inc. T, +0.24% T, +0.24% were 1.2% higher in premarket action after the media and communications giant topped third-quarter profit expectations but fell short on revenue early Monday.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. QSR, -0.73%, the operator of the Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeye’s fast-food chains, on Monday reported earnings that matched the consensus forecast, while revenue came in just below. The company’s stock rose 0.1% before the start of trade.

Spotify Technology SA SPOT, +1.57%  shares were up 8.1% in premarket trade Monday after the music-streaming service reported an unexpected profit in the third quarter, while surpassing analyst estimates for monthly active users.

Athene Holding Ltd. ATH, +0.17%  announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with Apollo Global Management Inc. that would give Apollo an 18% stake in a deal valued at about $1.55 billion, or $46.20 a share — a 10% premium over Friday’s closing price. Shares in the retirement services company rose 1.2% in premarket action.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA, +1.78% shares were up 0.2% before the start of trade Monday, after the retailer reported fourth-quarter profits and revenues that beat Wall Street expectations.

How are other markets trading?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +2.07%  rose 2.8 basis points to 1.826%.

In commodities markets, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil CLZ19, -0.39%  fell about 0.6% to $56.51 per barrel and the price of an ounce of gold GCZ19, +0.10%  rose 0.1% to $1506.40. The U.S. dollar DXY, -0.11%, meanwhile ticked 0.1% lower relative to a basket of its major trading partners.

In Asia overnight, stocks closed higher, with the China CSI 300 000300, +0.76%  adding 0.8%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.84%  rising 0.8% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.30%  advancing 0.3%.

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