Wall Street futures drifted lower Monday, following modestly weaker sessions in Europe and Asia, as investors watched and waited for the impact of a federal government shutdown that has extended into its third day amid rising Treasury bond yields and a stabilising dollar.
Early indications from U.S. Futures suggest a weaker start to trading ahead of a busy slate for corporate earnings the annual gather of business and political leaders at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 51 points, or 0.2%, lower from their Friday close and those tied to the S&P 500 trading 3.25 points, or 0.16%, into the red.
Senate lawmakers have scheduled a vote for noon eastern in the hopes of reaching a temporary agreement that would allow funding for the federal government until at least Feb. 8 in an effort to solve a budget impasse that could, according to a December report from ratings company Standard & Poor's cost the U.S. as much as $6.5 billion, or the equivalent of 0.2 percentage points from GDP growth, over each week that it continues.
Around 300 companies will publish quarterly earnings this week as the season revs up into high gear, with Halliburton (HAL) highlighting today's slate prior to the opening bell while NetFlix (NFLX) , TD Ameritrade (AMTD) and Logitech International (LOGI) will publish fourth quarter figures after the close of trading. Later this week we'll get updates from Dow components Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) , Proctor & Gamble (PG) , General Electric (GE) , Travellers (TRV) , 3M (MMM) and Caterpillar Inc. (CAT)GE is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells GE ? Learn more now .
With just over 10% of S&P 500 companies reporting fourth-quarter figures so far this year, earnings have fallen by 0.2% from the same period in 2016, according to data from FactSet, as banks reduce the value of their tax credits following the December passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by Republican lawmakers. Stripping away bank earnings, however, would lift the growth rate to 11.2%, FactSet data indicates, a figure that will likely balloon to 18.6% for all of 2018.
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In Europe, the Stoxx 600 benchmark flitted in and out of positive territory at the opening bell, with little direction evident after a similarly flat session in Asia, but nonetheless continued to peg shares at 401 points, just shy of the all-time high of 401.15 it hit on Friday. Britain's FTSE 100 gave back around 0.15% in the opening minutes, held down again by weaker retail stocks and a still-elevated pound, which was marked 0.04% higher from its Friday close against the dollar at 1.3907.
UBS AG (UBS) were a notable European mover, falling as much as 3% at one stage after Switzerland's biggest bank took a near $3 billion hit to its fourth quarter earnings Monday as it wrote down the value of U.S. tax credits in a move that overshadowed solid underlying performance and an increase in shareholder returns.
UBS booked an Sfr2.9 billion ($3.01 billion) writedown linked to last year's overhaul of the U.S. corporate tax code and reported an Sfr2.2 billion loss for the three months ending in December, a figure that was higher than Street estimates, and said it would scrap a previous target of returning 50% of its net profits to shareholders and would instead commit to growing its annual dividend "at mid-to-high single digit percent per annum". The bank also said low market volatility would likely persist over the short term and that new Basel III capital standards will increase it capital requirements and costs.
Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was pinned near three-year lows at 90.42 in early European trading, although it was supported to some degree by rising Treasury bond yields, with benchmark 10-year notes hitting a three-and-a-half year high of 2.672% in overnight Asia dealing.
Stocks in Asia were also affected by the standoff in Washington, although the region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index did manage to touch its sixth consecutive record high Monday after the benchmark added 0.1% into the close of the session. Japan's Nikkei 225, by contrast, edged 0.03% higher to end the session at 23,816.33 points as gains were held down by a stronger yen, which traded at 1.1082 against the weakened U.S. dollar.
Global oil prices continued their long string of gains again Monday after comments from Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, which suggested that OPEC cartel members could extend their pact to remove 1.8 million barrels of oil per day from the market, via output limits, beyond the December 2018 deadline, but pared that advance as the European session wore on.
Brent crude contracts for March delivery, the global benchmark, were priced 4 cents lower from their Friday close at $68.60 per barrel while WTI contracts for the month, which are more closely linked to U.S. gasoline prices, were seen 5 cents lower at $63.32.