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Wall Street set for softer open amid lockdown fears

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All three of the main indices on Wall Street are expected to open lower on Friday morning as investor sentiment is weighed down by fears of more pandemic lockdown measures

The Dow Jones industrial average is expected to add to yesterday’s losses, opening 236 points lower at 30,940.

The S&P 500, which edged higher yesterday, is tipped to open 27 points in the hole at 3,826 while the Nasdaq Composite, which made modest headway on Thursday, is expected to open 201 points weaker at 13,330.

Global sentiment has been hit by the prospect of tougher lockdowns being introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus while there is also speculation that Republicans will dig their heels in over President Biden’s US$1.9tln fiscal stimulus package.

Meanwhile, fourth-quarter earnings season remains in full flow with oilfield services provider Schlumberger NV (NYSE:SLB) topping expectations with adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 22 cents; this was down from 39 cents a year earlier but ahead of the consensus forecast of 17 cents.

Elsewhere, David Madden at CMC Markets said shares in computer chip maker Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC) “saw a lot of volatility shortly before the close of trading in the US last night as it seems their fourth-quarter numbers were leaked and posted a little earlier than expected.”

The company is investigating reports that a graphic in the earnings was the subject of a hack, hence the numbers were released early.

EPS came in at US$1.52, compared to the consensus estimate of US$1.10.

It’s also Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) day across the globe and the US is no exception. It’s just the “flash” estimates – the first stab at the numbers – so the numbers may not move the market much.

The manufacturing PMI for January is expected to ebb to 56.5 from 57.1 in December while the services PMI is seen retreating to 53.4 from 54.8.

Yesterday was the day the housing starts data was released and today we get the exiting homes sales numbers, with economics predicting a fall to 6.56mln in December from 6.69mln in November.

Oil traders will be looking for the Department of Energy’s crude oil stockpile numbers, with expectations of a fall of 1,675k barrels after the previous week’s fall of 3,248k.

Four things to watch for on Friday:

  • Earnings season continues to rumble on, with big firms such as railroad investment group Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) and banking firm Regions Financial Corp (NYSE:RF) among those reporting quarterly numbers
  • In the macro diary, US flash PMI readings for January will provide more insight on how the American economy has started 2021, and may show how high a mountain the new Biden administration has to climb to get the economy back on track
  • Meanwhile, shares in Google parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) may come into focus after the tech giant threatened to pull its search engine out of Australia if the national government pushed ahead with plans to make the company pay for news content
  • Cryptocurrency Bitcoin could also attract attention as the digital coin stands on the cusp of its worst week since March, nearly falling below US$30,000

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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