Wall St. set to open lower as geopolitical tensions rise | Reuters

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

U.S. stocks looked set to open slightly lower on Tuesday as investors turned cautious amid mounting geopolitical tensions in Syria and North Korea and ahead of the start of first-quarter earnings season later this week.

The White House said on Monday President Donald Trump was open to authorizing additional strikes on Syria if its government uses chemical weapons again or deploys barrel bombs, while North Korea warned of a nuclear attack on the United States if it was provoked as a U.S. Navy strike group moved towards the western Pacific.

Prices of safe-haven gold rose, with spot gold XAU= up the most in over one week. Investors also ditched riskier assets for the Japanese yen and U.S. Treasuries, favored during times of uncertainty.

The dollar index .DXY slipped the most in about two weeks and oil prices eased from five-week highs.

“Heightening geopolitical fears are likely to constrain investors from a mood change…(and) are likely to keep the safety trade gold and U.S. Treasuries in play,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial wrote in a note.

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were down 16 points, or 0.08 percent at 8:27 a.m. ET (1227 GMT), with 24,040 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 3.25 points, or 0.14 percent, with 142,255 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 7 points, or 0.13 percent, on volume of 25,408 contracts.

Investors also preferred to hold their bets ahead of the start of the first-quarter earnings season, which is set to kick off on Thursday when three big U.S. banks report.

A rally in financial shares has fizzled recently as investors fret over lofty valuations and Trump’s ability to make good on his pro-growth promises.

Trump will meet with about 20 chief executives, including the heads of General Motors (GM.N), IBM (IBM.N) and Wal-Mart (WMT.N), as he seeks to garner support for a $1 trillion infrastructure program, tax reforms and other administration priorities. Wall Street ended flat in choppy, low volume trading on Monday as investors weighed the rise in oil prices against a decline in bank stocks.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari is scheduled to speak at an event later on Tuesday. No top-tier economic news is due for the day.

Among premarket movers, RetailMeNot (SALE.O) jumped nearly 50 percent to $11.60 after agreeing to be bought by marketing services company Harland Clarke [MFWH.UL].

Western Digital (WDC.O) was up 2.2 percent at $86.60, following a JPMorgan upgrade to “overweight” from “neutral”.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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