European stocks edged higher in the opening hour of trading Monday, while U.S. equity futures drifted lower ahead of a heavy schedule of corporate earnings and economic data releases as well as the final policy meeting of the Federal Reserve under outgoing chairwoman Janet Yellen.
A modest overnight rebound for the U.S. dollar index, which bounded 0.24% from an extended three-year low to 82.27 in early European trading has given regional stocks a boost, helping the Stoxx Europe 600 index edge 0.05% into positive territory at 400.73 points. The euro, which had topped 1.25 for the first time in more than three years Friday, eased 0.21% to 1.2403 while the pound drifted by a similar percentage to around 1.4122.
Wall Street futures suggest a softer start to the Monday trading session, with contacts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 8 point to the downside after Friday's 221 point gain which lifted the benchmark to another record close of 26,614.02 points. The broader S&P 500, which ended Friday 1.18% higher at 2,872.79 points, is expected to slip around 5.5 points, or 0.19%, at the opening bell.
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) - Get Report is the biggest name in Monday's light earnings schedule, although around a third of the S&P 500 will report fourth quarter figures this week, including benchmark heavyweights Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report , Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - Get Report , Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Amazon Inc. (AMZN) - Get Report . Key economic data in the form of January consumer confidence (Tuesday), the ADP employment report (Thursday) and Friday's January non-farm payrolls will also likely keep traders focused on both the dollar and broader U.S. financial markets.
Overnight in Asia, stocks kicked-off the week in a tentative fashion, with the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slipping 0.02% into the close of trading and Japan's Nikkei 225 falling 0.01% to end the session at 23,629.34 points.
Global oil markets were similarly mixed, with WTI crude prices rising modestly despite a jump in U.S. production rates and Brent crude future slipping modestly from three-year highs as the dollar executed a modest rebound on foreign exchange markets.
Brent contracts for March delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 25 cents lower from Friday's close at $70.27 while WTI contracts for the same month were seen 5 cents higher at $66.19 per barrel.