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Futures ease as bond yields stay elevated amid Middle East tensions

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LA Post: Futures ease as bond yields stay elevated amid Middle East tensions
April 16, 2024
Reuters

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Tuesday, weighed by elevated Treasury yields as investors remained wary of the conflict in the Middle East, turning the lens on company earnings to gauge the strength of the economy.

Wall Street closed sharply lower in the previous session, pressured by a jump in Treasury yields and concerns about the rising geopolitical tensions between Iran and Israel.

The yield on the 10-year government bond last stood at 4.6468%, a day after data showed U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in March amid a surge in receipts at online retailers. This was further evidence that the economy had ended the first quarter on solid ground.

Meanwhile, Israelis awaited word on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would respond to Iran's first-ever direct attack, as international pressure for restraint grew over fears the conflict could escalate.

Several policymakers including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell are slated to speak later in the day, and investors will be watching for clues on where the central bank stands on policy easing.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said on Monday that with the economy and labor market strong and inflation still above the Fed's 2% target, there was "no urgency" to cut U.S. interest rates.

Traders see an about 48% chance of the Fed kicking off its easing cycle in July, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

On the earnings front, financial firms will be in the spotlight, with Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and BNY Mellon scheduled to report their quarterly numbers before the opening bell.

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson is also due to report before markets open.

U.S. equities have sold off recently as investors sharply readjusted their expectations of how much the Fed would cut rates this year, with bets now showing only 43 basis points of expected easing, according to LSEG data. This is down from about 150 bps seen at the start of the year.

At 5:38 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 72 points, or 0.19%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 8.75 points, or 0.17%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 20.75 points, or 0.12%.

Tesla shed 2.1% in premarket trading after falling over 5% in the last session, when an internal memo seen by Reuters showed the EV marker was laying off more than 10% of its global workforce.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)

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