Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures struggle for direction after volatile session as investors await Powell testimony

Stock-index futures were mixed Tuesday, with the contract on the Dow Jones Industrial Average flipping between small gains and losses, a day after a volatile session that saw stocks sell off sharply but finish well off session lows.

What are major benchmarks doing?

Dow futures YM00, -0.28%  were down 75 points, or 0.3%, at 26,980, while S&P 500 futures ES00, -0.04%  were off 2.35 points, or less than 0.1%, at 3,272.75. Nasdaq-100 futures NQ00, +0.23% NQ00, +0.23% gained 10.50 points, or 0.1%, to trade at 11,000.25.

Stocks fell hard Monday, but ended well above session lows The Dow DJIA, -1.84%  dropped 509.72 points, or 1.8%, to finish at 27,147.70, after dropping more than 900 points at its session low. The S&P 500 SPX, -1.15%  fell 38.41 points, or 1.2%, to end at 3,281.06 for its fourth straight daily fall, its longest losing streak since February. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.13%  shed 14.48 points, or 0.1%, ending at 10,778.80.

What are major benchmarks doing?

Rising COVID-19 cases and the threat of renewed lockdowns in Europe along with increasing doubts over the prospects for congressional Democrats and the White House to come to an agreement on additional aid—a prospect complicated by the looming battle over a nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, on the Supreme Court—were blamed in part for the Monday selloff.

But stocks came off the lows and appeared poised to test the upside Tuesday. Equities have been under pressure for much of September, with major benchmarks suffering three straight weekly declines.

“Coronavirus concerns have resurfaced, worrying investors that a reversal in reopening progress could be near. More and more uncertainty is arising as we get closer to the election but no closer to congressional fiscal relief,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist for Ally Invest, in a note. “But we’re still optimistic this dip will be bought sooner rather than later.”

Monday’s selloff, unlike the previous week’s tech-led slide, was paced by value stocks, such as industrials, energy and financials, noted Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group.

“That appears logical to us as tech firms may be the least affected in case of a second round of lockdown measures around the globe,” he said.

Investors remain focused on rising COVID-19 cases as the U.K. moved to reimpose some lockdown restrictions, while Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will tell lawmakers it’s up to them to provide relief to some troubled companies as doubts remain over prospects for another aid package, according to prepared testimony released late Monday. Powell appears before the House Financial Services Committee at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

August data on existing home sales is due at 10 a.m. Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Tom Barkin is set to deliver remarks at an event at noon, while Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of electric car maker Tesla Inc. TSLA, +1.63%  were down more than 3% in premarket trade ahead of the company’s “battery day” event. Chief Executive Elon Musk aimed to tone down expectations ahead of the event, tweeting late Monday that the products set to be unveiled “will not reach serious high-volume production until 2022” See:3 things to know about Tesla’s ‘battery day’


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