Stock Futures Decline as Geopolitical Risks Escalate

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were taking a hit Monday as geopolitical concerns eroded risk appetite.

The U.S. and Iran were expected to begin talks this week on how they can help counter the growing threat of the insurgency threat in Iraq, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper reported that radical Sunni militia bragged on Sunday that it had executed hundreds of Shiite Iraqi soldiers. Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has reportedly seized control over the town of Tal Afar in northwest Iraq.

In Ukraine, in one of the deadliest events in the country's escalating crisis, a Ukrainian military plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists over the weekend, killing all 49 people on board.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were slipping 48 points, or 43.74 points below fair value, to 16,649. S&P 500 futures were down 5 points, or 4.41 points below fair value, to 1,923.25. Nasdaq futures were behind by 8.7 points, or 6.36 points below fair value, to 3,760.3.

Piper Jaffray technical analyst Craig Johnson wrote that looking at the impact of all historical Middle Eastern conflicts since 1970 shows the S&P 500 tends to trade modestly lower at the beginning of these conflicts, but losses ahead of the conflict are typically quickly recaptured and the SPX is generally higher three months later.

The Federal Open Market Committee meeting kicks off on Tuesday, with a rates announcement expected on Wednesday. Officials are widely expected to continue the current pace of tapering to their asset purchases by $10 billion a month. There will also be more scrutiny on the timing and language of the committee's first rate hike plans.

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