S&P 500 Futures Point to a Reserved Opening as Bond Yields Make Early Moves

On the cusp of the new trading year, early indications from U.S. stock index futures on Tuesday suggest a cautious start for Wall Street, following a robust 2023 rally that brought the S&P 500 tantalizingly close to a new record.

A glance at stock-index futures reveals the following movements:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES00, -0.77%) inched up by 1 point, or 0%, reaching 4821.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures (YM00, -0.59%) gained 53 points, or 0.1%, settling at 38064.
  • Nasdaq 100 futures (NQ00, -1.09%) dipped by 22 points, or 0.1%, closing at 17001.

In the last trading session on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 21 points, or 0.05%, closing at 37690. Similarly, the S&P 500 declined 14 points, or 0.28%, reaching 4770, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 84 points, or 0.56%, closing at 15011.

Key market influencers:

Stock index futures are signaling a challenging start for U.S. equities in the initial trading session of the year. Concerns are fueled by soft data from China, indicating a slowdown in the country’s economic recovery. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng experienced a 1.5% decline, and the Shanghai Composite dipped by 0.4% following a report highlighting China’s factory activity slowing down in December to its weakest pace in six months.

Stephen Innes, Managing Partner at SPI Asset Management, highlighted, “The PMI figures indicate a slowdown in China’s economic recovery in the last months of the year,” anticipating increased pressure on policymakers to take prompt action.

In addition to these concerns, geopolitical tensions rose as Iran announced sending a warship to the Red Sea in response to the U.S. navy’s sinking of boats belonging to the Tehran-backed Houthi militia. This development led to a 1.5% rise in Brent crude, crossing the $78 per barrel mark, sparking worries about potential inflationary pressures stemming from higher energy costs.

This move also contributed to a 6.4 basis point increase in 10-year Treasury yields, reaching 3.994% on Tuesday, following a recent decline in yields driven by hopes that easing inflation would prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

Looking forward, potential market catalysts include the release of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for December and the impending fourth-quarter corporate earnings reporting season. Despite prevailing uncertainties, many analysts remain optimistic about the bond market’s ability to support stocks, creating a favorable environment for further market gains.

Scheduled economic updates on Tuesday include the release of the S&P manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for December at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, and November construction spending at 10 a.m.

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