U.S. stock futures pull back as traders keep watchful eye on Syria tensions
U.S. stock futures pulled lower on Wednesday, as the possibility of an American military strike on Syria gave investors pause, while trade concerns continued to linger.
Stocks rallied a day earlier after China presented a less-aggressive stance in trade tensions with the U.S.
An important update on consumer inflation is expected during the session, as are the latest minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
What did the main benchmarks do?
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMM8, -0.41% fell 77 points, or 0.3%, to 24,274, while S&P 500 futures ESM8, -0.54% slipped 12.85 points, or 0.5%, to 2,642.25. Nasdaq-100 futures NQM8, -0.50% dropped 28.75 points, or 0.4%, to 6,596.
Optimism on the global trade front lifted the Dow Jones Industrial AverageDJIA, +1.79% 428.90 points, or 1.8%, to 24,408.00 on Tuesday. The S&P 500SPX, +1.67% and Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +2.07% gained 1.7% and 2.1%, respectively.
What’s driving markets
In a fresh geopolitical concern for investors, the possibility of a U.S. strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to be growing, with President Donald Trump and his administration working to rally international support.
Talk of such a strike has been simmering since a suspected chemical-weapons attack killed civilians in Damascus over the weekend. But it could draw the U.S. into a conflict with Russia, in particular, which has been backing al-Assad’s regime.
A European air-traffic-control agency issued a warning late Tuesday for airlines to proceed cautiously in the eastern Mediterranean area over the next 72 hours, due to the possibility of airstrikes in Syria.
Global trade issues were less prominent, at least for now, as the market seemed to enter wait-and-see mode over whether Trump will be satisfied with the trade concessions outlined by China’s President Xi Jinping or enter a more protracted battle.
China’s central bank governor Yi Gang has promised to expand foreign access to banking, securities and insurance sectors this year, and open up a trading link between exchanges in London and Shanghai. Those comments were made at the Boao Forum, where a day earlier Xi made his own trade-friendly remarks that sparked a global equity rally.
Which data are in focus?
The consumer-price index for March is due for release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, along with core prices. Economists polled by MarketWatch are forecasting headline prices to fall 0.1% and core prices to rise 0.2%.
The Federal budget is due at 2 p.m., with the minutes of the most recent Fed meeting due for release at the same time.
What are other markets doing?
Asian stocks had a mixed day with the Nikkei 225 index NIK, -0.49% rising 1.5%. European stocks SXXP, -0.29% were set to open slightly lower.
Gold futures GCM8, +0.24% GCM8, +0.24% were flat at $1,345.50 an ounce, as as the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.12% , which traded at 89.567.
Oil prices CLK8, +0.47% eased 0.3% to $65.29, after settling at the highest level in three years on Tuesday.