By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
Bank of America and Goldman Sachs earnings are in focus Tuesday
Wall Street looked set for a downbeat open Tuesday, as concerns over this weekend's French election and U.S.-North Korea tensions kept a lid on U.S. stock futures.
But corporate earnings due from heavyweights such as UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. could add impetus to trading action.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 28 points, or 0.1%, to 20,541, while those for the S&P 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2,341. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index lost 2.75 points, or 0.1%, to 5,392.50.
On Monday, U.S. stocks jumped, halting a three-session losing run (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-hint-of-lower-start-as-geopolitical-economic-worries-weigh-2017-04-17). The S&P 500 index and Dow average both rose 0.9% as banks enjoyed their best daily rally in six weeks.
Stock futures were largely flat earlier on Tuesday morning, but started to head lower as European markets came back from a four-day Easter break with sharp losses. Some analysts put the declines down to jitters over the French presidential elections. The fear is that the first round vote on Sunday will show strong support for populist candidates such as far-right, anti-EU National Front leader Marine Le Pen and far-left euroskeptic Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is racing ahead in the polls.
France's CAC 40 index was down 0.9% on Tuesday. The yield on 10-year French government bonds was down 2 basis points at 0.877%, but hadtraded above 0.92% earlier in the day.
"The key [market] drivers seem to sit very much at the political level. These include factors such as the looming French election and how U.S. foreign policy will play out next. We do however seem to be moving into a phase of more complicated price action than we've seen in recent weeks," said Tony Cross, market analyst for TopTradr, in a Tuesday note.
Uncertainty over U.S. and North Korea relations has risen in recent days after President Donald Trump told the government in Pyongyang that it has "gotta behave". In response, a senior North Korean official said his country was "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S."
Read:Jack Bogle on how to invest in a time of Trump: 'Be realistic' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jack-bogle-on-how-to-invest-in-a-time-of-trump-be-realistic-2017-04-13)
The geopolitical jitters, however, failed to boost traditional safe haven assets such as gold, which broke four-session winning streak and dropped 0.4%.
Other metals were also falling, tracking a sharp drop in iron ore prices.
Earnings deluge: Corporate results were also in focus on Tuesday, with a deluge of earnings hitting premarket.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.(UNH) , Johnson & Johnson(JNJ) , Harley-Davidson Inc.(HOG) , Charles Schwab Corp.(SCHW) , Bank of America Corp.(BAC) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS) are slated to report quarterly earnings before the bell.
Read:Johnson & Johnson earnings: Expect a slow first quarter due to drug segment challenges (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/johnson-johnson-earnings-expect-a-slow-first-quarter-due-to-drug-segment-challenges-2017-04-17)
So far bank earnings have been largely positive, with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (C) last week reporting strong results after their investment-banking divisions benefited from stronger stock markets and more IPO activity. Analysts expect to see similar trends (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bank-of-america-earnings-expect-strong-trading-weak-loan-growth-2017-04-17) when Bank of America reports on Tuesday.
Stock movers: Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc.(UAL) rose 1.1% in thin premarket trade after the United Airlines's parent company late Monday reported adjusted earnings above expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/united-shares-higher-after-earnings-beat-ceo-calls-flight-3411-incident-humbling-2017-04-17).
CEO Oscar Munoz said in the earnings statement that the incident of a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane was a "humbling experience."
Netflix Inc. shares (NFLX) inched 0.3% higher ahead of the bell, even after the streaming giant late Monday said it added fewer-than-expected subscribers in the first quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/netflix-shares-fall-after-streaming-company-adds-fewer-subscribers-than-expected-in-q1-2017-04-17).
Post Holdings Inc.(POST) could also be active in Tuesday's trade. The packaged food company said it is buying iconic U.K. breakfast brand Weetabix Food Co. for GBP1.4 billion ($1.76 billion) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/post-holdings-agrees-to-buy-weetabix-in-176-billion-deal-2017-04-18).
Economic news: Housing starts and building permits data for March are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by industrial production and capacity utilization for the same month at 9:15 a.m.
Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George gives a speech on the Fed and monetary policy to the Levy Institute at Bard College at 9 a.m. Eastern.
Other markets: The dollar was largely flat against other major currencies after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in an interview with the Financial Times said he sees dollar strength as a positive on the long term. The comment comes after Trump last week said the dollar is too strong.
Stocks in Asia closed mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-off-to-slow-start-after-holiday-weekend-2017-04-17), with Japan's Nikkei 225 index ending higher, but Chinese markets falling.
Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-steady-as-market-takes-wait-and-see-approach-2017-04-18) were lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-steady-as-market-takes-wait-and-see-approach-2017-04-18), adding to Monday's losses.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 18, 2017 06:08 ET (10:08 GMT)
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