U.S. stock-index futures were modestly lower Wednesday as rising COVID-19 infections around the world contribute to worries over global economic growth, while Nasdaq-100 futures saw added pressure after Netflix Inc. reported disappointing subscriber numbers.
What are major indexes doing?
- Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 33 points, or 0.1%, at 33,670.
- S&P 500 futures edged down 7 points, or 0.2%, to 4,119.
- Nasdaq-100 futures fell 53 points, or 0.4%, to 13,741.
Stocks fell for a second day Tuesday, with the Dow shedding 256.33 points, or 0.8%. The S&P 500 dropped 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.9% and the small-cap Russell 2000 slumped 2%.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks have seen a modest pullback after the S&P 500 index and Dow ended at records on Friday, with analysts largely tying the decline to concerns about a renewed rise in COVID-19 infections around the world, particularly in India and Japan.
“Sentiment was hurt predominantly due to renewed worries over rising global COVID infections which could slow down the reopening of some economies,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a note. “In the case of U.S. stocks, there was also an element of profit-taking after the major indices had reached or neared record levels with the earnings season in full swing now.”
India reported a record number of cases again on Wednesday, counting more than 200,000 for a seventh straight day. The country’s hospitals are reported to be filling rapidly, it is running out of ICU beds and running low on oxygen. News reports said Japanese officials were considering ordering a state of emergency for Tokyo and Osaka due to surging COVID-19 cases.
“I call this the great re-assessment,” said Don Calcagni, chief investment officer for Mercer Advisors. “A lot of things are forcing market participants to hit the pause button and re-assess, including a rise in COVID cases. We’re also seeing some questionable earnings despite the overall headlines.”
“Look at Netflix,” Calcagni said in an interview. “Look at the bitcoin mini-crash. Look at the airlines — their earnings were very disappointing. I think a reassessment is occurring and I think that’s healthy. Right now we’re at peak everything. It doesn’t mean we can’t go higher from here but it is going to be harder.”
The softer tone for markets comes as earnings season moved into full swing this week. Results from Netflix Inc. late Tuesday sent shares of the streaming giant down 8% and was seen weighing on Nasdaq-100 futures.
Which companies are in focus?
- Netflix late Tuesday reported 3.98 million net new paid subscribers in the first quarter, down from 8.5 million reported in the previous quarter and well below the 6 million the company predicted three months ago.
- In deal news, Middleby Corp. said Wednesday it had agreed to acquire Welbilt Inc. in an all-stock deal with an enterprise value of $4.3 billion, that would create a food equipment company with a commercial food service portfolio. Wellbilt shares jumped more than 20% in premarket action, while Middleby shares fell 5%.
- Government-services provider Maximus Inc. said Wednesday it had agreed to acquire the privately held parent company of Veterans Evaluation Services Inc. for $1.4 billion.
- “Software robot” company UiPath late Tuesday priced its initial public offering at $56 a share, raising more than $1.3 billion and giving the company an initial market capitalization of $29.1 billion. It’s expected to begin trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “PATH.”
- Halliburton Co. shares were up in premarket trade after the oil services company swung to a first-quarter profit that beat expectations and revenue that topped forecasts.
- Baker Hughes Co. reported a first-quarter loss but an adjusted profit that beat expectations, while revenue fell just shy of forecasts as oil-field services and equipment revenue dropped 30%. Shares were inactive in premarket trade.
- Shares of Anthem Inc. were up 0.3% in premarket trade after reporting first-quarter profit that beat expectations and providing an upbeat full-year outlook, though revenue missed expectations as premiums rose less than forecast.
How are other assets performing?
- The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked up 1 basis point to around 1.572%. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.
- The ICE U.S. Dollar Index a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1%.
- Oil futures slid on prospects of diminished global demand, with the U.S. benchmark down $1.52 , or 2.4%, to trade near $61.15 per barrel.
- Gold futures gained 0.3%, $5.50 to trade near $1,783.90 an ounce.
- In Europe, the Stoxx 600 gained 0.4% and London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.3%.
- In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed 1.8% lower, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP was virtually unchanged and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK dropped 2%.