U.S. stock index futures edged lower ahead of two key pieces of data Wednesday morning: ADP's March private-sector hiring report and Institute for Supply Management's services activity index data. Before the opening bell, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down slightly beneath the flatline. Futures on the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite dipped to nearly 0.1%. Treasury yields inched higher. The yield on the 10-year note climbed to 3.367%. Gold futures are hovering at their highest level in more than a year after data showed that US job vacancies dropped in February to their lowest levels since May 2021. The S&P 500 closed down 0.6% on Tuesday after new data showed fresh signs of the labor market cooling. The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed that US employers reported 9.93 million job openings in the month of February, down from over 10.5 million in January and significantly weaker than the consensus forecast of 10.5 million. “Since 2000 when JOLTS data [started], prior rollovers and drawdowns of similar magnitude in the number of job openings were associated with recessions,” Paul Hickey, cofounder of Bespoke Investments, wrote in a note. On Wednesday, Wall Street will be keeping a close eye on fresh economic readings from ADP's March private-sector hiring report and Institute for Supply Management's services activity index. The hiring data will give more insight into the labor market ahead of the highly anticipated Friday jobs report. At the same time, investors will be paying close attention to Walmart's (WMT) two-day investor meeting, which could provide more color on consumer health. Elsewhere, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said Tuesday inflation remains too high and stubborn, and expects to see interest rates move above 5%, while “real fed funds rate staying in positive territory for some time.” In other single-stock moves, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) shares rose 2% in premarket trading after the healthcare giant quadrupled its offer to settle cancer lawsuits related to its baby powder. The company is now offering $8.9 billion to the 60,000 claimants. Meanwhile, bank stocks slid on Tuesday, with the KBW Banks Index down by 2%. The worst performers were First Republic, KeyCorp, and Comerica, which were all down more than 5%. They appeared poised for more losses Wednesday. Shares of C3.ai, Inc. fell about 4% Wednesday morning after Kerrisdale Capital, a firm that holds a short position in AI stock, said it has sent a letter to the software maker's auditor, alleging a series of accounting irregularities. The company denied the wrongdoing. InflaRx N.V. shares soared Tuesday morning after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency-use authorization to Inflarx NV's monoclonal antibody for the treatment of hospitalized COVID patients. Elsewhere, in the crypto market, Ethereum (ETH-USD) has gained momentum over the past 24 hours as it moves closer to $2,000 threshold ahead of the blockchain's Shanghai upgrade. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.7% to 27,813.26. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched up less than 0.1% to 7,237.20. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6% to 2,495.21. Trading was closed in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the Qingming Festival, a holiday. Oil steadied as traders await official US inventory data following a volatile start to the week marked by unexpected OPEC+ supply cuts. West Texas Intermediate traded near $81 a barrel after closing at the highest level in almost 10 weeks. The industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported nationwide crude stockpiles fell by 4.3 million barrels, including a drop at the key storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, according to people familiar with the data. Gold prices are headed toward record highs Tuesday—and they might not stop there. At $2,042 an ounce—up 2.1% on Tuesday—the gold price has less than 1.5% to rise to hit its record high of $2,069.40 set in 2020.
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