Global stocks edged higher Tuesday, pulling European shares and U.S. equity futures into positive territory, even as Treasury yields continue to flirt with 3% and oil surged past $75 a barrel, ensuring inflation concerns will remain foremost in investors' minds in days and weeks ahead.
Europe's Stoxx 600 index, the broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.11% higher in the opening hour of trading as a strong 0.32% gain for the DAX performance index in Germany offset only a modest 0.03% rise for the CAC-40 in Paris. Britain's FTSE 100 was marked 0.36% to the upside, thanks in part to a weaker pound sterling, which fell to a one-month low of 1.3930 against the U.S. dollar.
SAP SE (SAP) shares rose 3.63% to the top of the German market Tuesday after Europe's biggest tech company boosted its full year outlook after topping €1 billion in cloud sales for the first time and outpaced U.S. rivals Oracle corp. (ORCL) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) for international sales.
U.S. equity futures are also expected to start the session in positive territory after a mixed set of closing levels Monday, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 112 points higher, indicating an opening bell gain of 108 points, while those linked to the broader S&P 500 trading 12.5 points, or 0.5%, to the upside. Nasdaq futures gained 35.5 points.
A busy slate of corporate earnings, however, could impact the day's direction, with several blue chips reporting including Dow components 3M Co. (MMM) , Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) , Coca-Cola Co. (KO) , and United Technologies (UTX) and Travellers Companies Inc. (TRV) . Eli Lily (ELY) , Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Harley Davidson (HOG) are also expected to update their first quarter performance later today.
Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) shares rose in pre-market trading Tuesday as investors focused on the internet giant's surging advertizing sales and discounted, for the moment at least, a rise in costs that hammered the group's overall profitability.
Alphabet shares were marked 0.58% higher in pre-market trading in New York, indicating an opening bell price of $1,079.99 each, a move that would take its year-to-date advance to 2.5% compared to a 12.75% gain for the NYSE FANG+ Index, an equal weight benchmark which tracks the moves of ten of the biggest and most active tech stocks in the world.
U.S. companies are on pace to record their best slate of quarterly earnings in more than two decades as businesses capitalise on the triple cocktail of low interest rates, significant domestic stimulus and coordinated global economic growth.
Around 80% of the 87 S&P 500 companies reporting so far this season have topped analysts' forecasts, according to data from both Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S and FactSet, a pace that, if sustained, would be the best quarter for U.S. corporate reporting since 1994. S&P 500 companies are set to notch a 20% year-on-year rise in their collective bottom lines, as well, a figure that hasn't been seen since the final three months of 2010.
Broader market sentiment, however, is likely to remain clouded by developments in the bond market, where benchmark U.S. Treasury bond yields look set to breach the 3% barrier for the first time since 2014 as investors fret over faster inflation -- driven largely by commodity price rises -- and the subsequent reaction from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year yields were last seen at 2.97% while the dollar index, a measure of the greenback's strength against a basket of six global currencies, was trading at an early January high of 90.88.
Oil prices certainly suggest the drive through 3% will happen sooner rather than later, with Brent crude futures prices surging past the $75 per barrel mark in overnight trading amid concern that U.S.-led sanctions on Iran, linked to its nuclear energy program, will pull another 500,000 barrels from a market that is already clipped of supply from OPEC-coordinated production cuts.
Brent contracts for June delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 17 cents higher from their Monday close in New York and changing hands at $74.88 in early European trading while WTI contracts for the same month were seen 33 cents higher at $68.97.
Overnight in Asia, stocks largely followed last night's trading direction on Wall Street, with the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rising modestly from a two-week low to gain 0.16% as the session drew to a close while Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark looking to add around 0.75% by the close of trading.