U.S. stock index futures were lower as a spike in oil prices added another threat to an economy already struggling from Federal Reserve rate hikes and recent turmoil in the banking sector. Nasdaq-100 futures shed 0.8%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.1% as second-quarter trading began. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up 134 points, or 0.4%. Chevron is set to give the index a boost as it gained 4.5% in pre-market trading on the spike in oil prices. The output cut from OPEC+, which is slashing 1.16 million barrels per day, sent oil prices soaring. West Texas Intermediate crude was 6.6% higher, while international benchmark Brent crude climbed 6%. Traders are shedding optimism from recent market strength with the prospect of higher oil prices adding to fears of higher inflation and a looming recession. The Energy Select Sector SPDR fund (XLE), which tracks the S&P 500 energy sector, also popped more than 3% in the premarket. Marathon Oil and Halliburton were the fund’s best performers, rising more than 6% each. All three major averages were positive in the first quarter, despite turmoil in the banking sector highlighted by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March. The Nasdaq Composite led the way in the quarter with a gain of 16.8% while the S&P 500 rose 7% in the first three months of the year for its second-straight positive quarter. The Dow industrials lagged but still managed to grind out an advance of 0.4%. “For now at least, tech is seen as a safe haven of all things, immune to the news in banking. The S&P 500, in turn, seems held together by its own heavy weighting in tech, names like Microsoft, Apple and the like,” Wellington Shields technical analyst Frank Gretz said in a note to clients. The first week of the new quarter is a shortened one for Wall Street, as trading will be closed for Good Friday. However, there will be several key pieces of economic data for investors, including job openings data on Tuesday, ADP private payrolls report on Wednesday and the closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday. Asia-Pacific markets largely rose on Monday as investors further digested key manufacturing data in the region. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.63% to end the day at 7,223, while in Japan, the Nikkei 225 was 0.5% higher to finish at 28,188.15 and the Topix rose 0.51% to close at 2,017.68. South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.22 to close at 2,472.34, while the Kosdad closed 0.88% up at 854.96. Mainland Chinese markets were also up, with the Shenzhen Component gaining 1.39% to finish at 11,889.42 and the Shanghai Composite rising 0.74% to end the day at 3,296.4. On the other hand, the Hang Seng index fell by 0.14%, while the Hang Seng Tech index saw a larger loss of 0.4%. Oil prices surged as much as 8% at the open after OPEC+ announced it was slashing output by 1.16 million barrels per day. Brent crude futures last jumped 5.1% to $83.95 a barrel on that news, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures soared 5.2% to $79.64 a barrel. Gold prices erased earlier losses on Monday after OPEC+ made a surprise announcement of oil output cuts, sparking inflation concerns and raising bets on more central bank rate hikes. Spot gold was 0.1% higher at $1,969.89 per ounce, having earlier slipped to its lowest in nearly a week at $1,949.54. U.S. gold futures were also up 0.1% at $1,987.30.
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