Global stocks were in retreat Monday, pulling U.S. equity futures into negative territory, as investors digest a series of major geopolitical developments over the weekend and prep for what could be the first of as many of four rate hikes from the Federal Reserve later this week in Washington.
Wall Street is looking at extending last week's losses at the start of trading this week, according to futures prices, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 127 points lower from Friday's close and those linked to the broader S&P 500 seen 14.25 points, or 0.31% to the downside to kick-off the trading week.
The moves are likely to be exacerbated by weakness in U.S. tech stocks, particularly social media groups, following weekend revelations that as many as 50 million Facebook Inc. (FB) users may have had their personal data harvested by a firm acting on behalf of the U.S. Presidential election campaign of President Donald Trump.
Facebook shares were marked 3.24% lower in pre-market trading, indicating an opening bell price of $179.11 each, a move that would trim the stock's year-to-date advance to around 1.5%. Other social media networks were trading lower in pre-market dealing Monday, with shares in Twitter Inc. (TWTR) marked 2.67% lower from their Friday close at $34.63 each, Snap Inc. (SNAP) falling 0.47% to $16.93 and Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) slumping 1.09% to $1,122.01 each.
Geopolitical risk is surging to the highest level since 2003, only after Iraq invasion and 911.— YUAN TALKS (@YuanTalks) March 19, 2018
(by Saxo Bank and Macrobond) pic.twitter.com/o00h5BWxzm
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, added 0.1% in overnight in Asia before reversing that move to fall to 90.09 while benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries were marked at 2.86% as investors factored in both Wednesday's expected Fed rate hike -- the first under new Chairman Jerome Powell -- and took cash out of the yen amid an ongoing political scandal over a land deal in Japan that appears to be threatening the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The CME Group's FedWatch tool is pricing in a 87.4% chance of a Wednesday rate increase, up from 81.7% a month ago, however, the probability of a December hike, which would indicate four moves from the Fed this year, is only 26.8%, down from 27.4% last week.
European stocks were also on the back foot Monday, with Britain's FTSE 100 falling 1.28% and Germany's DAX performance index sliding 1.1% by mid-day in Frankfurt.
In currency markets, the dollar's turnaround has both the pound (1.4028) and the euro (1.2290) trading slightly higher, although many traders were eyeing developments in the Russia rouble -- which held at a one-month low against the dollar of 57.55 -- after Vladimr Putin won a landslide victory in the weekend's Presidential elections and will serve another six year term at the helm of perhaps one of the world's most controversial governments.
Another currency in the crosshairs of traders was China's yuan, which also edged lower against the greenback after Vice Governor Yi Gang was promoted to the head of the People's Bank of China, the latest shake-up in the country's top roles under the newly-cemented leadership of President Xi Jingping.
Asia stocks traded broadly weaker, with the Nikkei 225 in Japan falling 0.9% to close at 21,480.90 points while the broader MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was marked 0.45% lower at 584.25 points.
Global oil markets were largely inactive overnight, although prices were under mild pressure from a modestly stronger dollar and spillover from last week's Baker Hughes rig count, which showed that U.S. drillers added four new installations last week to take the total count to 800.
Brent crude contracts for May deliver were marked 25 cents lower at $65.96 per barrel while WTI contracts for April were seen 29 cents lower at $62.05.