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Wall Street slides at the opening bell

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The main indices started Friday’s session mostly in the red as market momentum appeared to run out ahead of the three-day weekend.

In the early minutes of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 31,429 while the S&P 500 dropped 0.18% to 3,909 and the Nasdaq fell 0.48% to 13,958.

There is little in the diary at the end of the week to entice investors, although one of the early winners was Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS), which jumped 1.3% to US$192.82 in morning deals after it reported a surprise quarterly profit amid a surge in subscribers for its Disney+ streaming service.

7:50am: Wall Street expected to start lower

US markets are expected to open lower, with unease evident over reports there have been two cases of the South African variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was expected to slide 47 points to 31,384 while the S&P is tipped to dip 7 points to 3,909.

The Nasdaq Composite is expected to tumble 310 points to 13,716.

It’s not all bad news, however, on the coronavirus front as the COVID Tracking Project reported 103,000 cases in the US yesterday, down 16.9% week-on-week.

The seven-day average has now fallen by 59% from the January 11 peak.

“The week-to-week drop in cases yesterday was the smallest since February 1. That’s not necessarily significant, but the numbers need to be watched very closely over the next few weeks, in light of genomic testing suggesting that the UK variant, B117, now accounts for some 4% of US cases, and as much as 10% in Florida,” said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“This variant is much more infectious than the original Covid, and it has quickly become the dominant variant in the UK, Denmark, and Israel, at least. In each of these countries, a modest upward trend in cases rapidly became an alarming surge, which was stopped only by lockdowns, in the UK and Denmark, and a less tight lockdown coupled with mass vaccination, in Israel. The restrictions applied across the US right now, on average, are not tight enough to control B117,” Shepherdson warned.

The focus could well be on cannabis stocks today after a number of high profile stocks came down to earth as the market decided that the apparently inexorable march towards relaxation of US laws on marijuana use may not be so inexorable after all.

Four things to watch for on Friday:

  • Firms coming in with earnings at the end of the week will include power group Dominion Energy Inc (NYSE:D) and credit rating agency Moody’s Corp (NYSE:MCO)
  • On the macro front, investors will be eyeing that latest Michigan inflation expectations as well as a few speeches from the chairs of a number of branches of the US Federal Reserve
  • There may also be interest in gold prices after sharp rally’s earlier this week followed by a sharp pullback
  • Meanwhile, politics could also throw up a few surprises as the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump continues in the US Senate

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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