U.S stocks look set to end the week modestly lower, with major benchmarks only little changed over the past five days, after an overnight sell-off in tech stocks and a sustained rise in both crude oil and government bond yields cast a defensive tone across global financial markets.
Early indications from U.S. equity futures point to a softer open on Wall Street, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average I:DJI marked 40 points to the downside, indicating an opening bell decline of 21 points, and those linked to the broader S&P 500 I:GSPC slipping 5.25 points from Thursday's close.
The Dow may, however, get a boost from stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings from General Electric (GE) - Get Report , which rose more than 3% in pre-market trading after topping Wall Street forecasts with $369 million in operating earnings attributable to shareholders.
Other reports on Friday's corporate earnings slate include engineering group Honeywell (HON) - Get Report and oil services groups Schlumberger Limited (SLB) - Get Report and Baker Hughes Co. (BHGE) - Get Report .
Asia's broad-based tech sector was hit hard in overnight trading as investors reacted to yesterday's after-hours release of third quarter earnings from Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) - Get Report , the world's biggest contract chipmaker, which sharply lowered its full year revenue projections and warned of a slowdown in smarthphone demand.
TSMC shares fell more than 6.3% in Asia trading, the biggest single-day decline in nearly five years, a moved that pulled sector-related stocks sharply lower around the region and clipped more than 1% from the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan benchmark.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fared modestly better, sliding only 0.13% by the close of the session thanks in a part to a weakening yen against the U.S. dollar, but the benchmark's biggest tech names, including Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (MRAAY) Tokyo Electron (TOELY) and Advantest (ATEYY) all notched declines of 2% or more.
Global oil prices held at three years highs in overnight trade in Asia, with the bid following through into Europe, after Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister told reporters at on OPEC meeting in Jeddah that a "future cooperation framework" on production limits would likely exist when the current agreement on cuts ends at the end of this year.
Brent crude contracts for June delivery, the global benchmark, were seen changing hands at $73.84 each, 6 cents higher from last night's New York close, while WTI futures for the same month were marked 3 cents higher at $68.32 each.
Benchmark government bond yields were also on the march, taking 10-year U.S. Treasuries to 2.93% in overnight Asia trade and boosted similarly-dated German bunds to 0.6%.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, was little-changed at 381.18 points by mid-day in Frankfurt trading as benchmarks in France and Germany kicked-off the trading session in negative territory before rebounding modestly as the session played out. Britain's FTSE 100, however, once again bucked the downward trend, rising 0.45% thanks to a weaker pound and rising oil and energy stocks
The pound extended declines in early European trading, taking its three-day move against the U.S. to around 2.1% and 1.4046 after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney suggested that while investors should be prepared for near-term rate hikes, the anticipated move in the May meeting is still up for debate.
Ericsson (ERIC) - Get Report was the region's standout early mover, rising more than 15.1%, the most in 10 years, after the telecoms equipment maker posted a smaller-than-expected first quarter loss but soundly beat investor expectations in some underlying profitability measurements.