U.S. stock index futures traded near flat on Monday as investors awaited a slew of corporate earnings from big tech companies, as well as fresh economic data releases. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell by 45 points, or 0.1%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were both down around 0.1%. The major indexes all fell last week as the earnings season began to ramp up, with several prominent banking names posting their quarterly results for the first time since the bank failures in March. The Dow dropped 0.23% and ended a four-week winning streak. The Nasdaq declined 0.42%, while the S&P edged down 0.1%. Roughly 76% of S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings through Friday beat analyst earnings estimates, according to FactSet data. However, first-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are estimated to decline an overall 5.2%, per Refinitiv. Wall Street is looking ahead toward mega-cap tech earnings results this week in what will mark the halfway point of earnings season. Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Meta are among the high-interest names scheduled to announce their results for the first quarter. “A lot of these companies took 2022 as an opportunity to dump all the bad stuff into their earnings,” said Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday, regarding upcoming tech earnings. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot of positive surprises coming out of their earnings reports,” Damodaran added. Investors are also keeping a close eye out on new economic data that will provide insight into whether inflation is cooling, or if the Federal Reserve will announce another rate hike at its next meeting in early May. GDP numbers for the first quarter, as well as April’s consumer sentiment data will be released among a flurry of other economic indicators. “Part of the reason why we’re so focused on the economic data is we think the investor narrative is still around the Fed and interest rates. And we think the economic reports over the next seven to 10 days are going to be the really big driver of ultimately what the Fed is going to do,” said Greg Bassuk, CEO of AXS Investments. “We’re expecting the data, frankly, to be mixed,” Bassuk added. “And we think that’s going to continue to cause uncertainty and continued volatility.” Traders will also watch out for the Dallas Fed’s Manufacturing survey results to gauge the state of the state’s factory activity. Asia-Pacific markets were broadly lower on Monday, ahead of a busy week of key economic releases in the region. Most major markets were down except Japan, which bucked the regional trend: the Nikkei 225 ended Monday slightly above the flatline at 28,593.52, while the Topix was 0.11% higher to close at 2,037,34. Investors will be closely watching the Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting later this week, the first to be led by new BOJ chief Kazuo Ueda. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.11% to finish at 7,322, while South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.82% lower at 2,523.5 and the Kosdaq was down 1.56% to end at 855.23. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component shed 1.16% to close at 11,317.01 and the Shanghai Composite was down 0.78% to finish at 3,275.41. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gave up earlier gains and fell about 0.8% lower in its last hour of trade, while the Hang Seng Tech also reversed and was about 0.4% lower in the final trading hour. Some Southeast Asian markets are closed today for a holiday, including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Oil prices were fairly steady on Monday as concern over rising interest rates, the global economy and the outlook for fuel demand were balanced by the prospect of tightening supplies. Brent crude slipped 34 cents, or 0.42%, to $81.32 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 28 cents, or 0.36%, at $77.59. Both contracts fell more than 5% last week for their first weekly declines in five as U.S. implied gasoline demand fell from a year earlier. Gold prices held in a tight range on Monday as market participants continue to focus on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate strategy in their fight against surging inflation. Spot gold was little changed at $1,981.26 an ounce while U.S. gold futures were up 0.07% at $1,991.80.
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