Futures Pointing To Roughly Flat Open On Wall Street

Following the pullback seen in the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 22 points.

Uncertainty about the outlook for the markets may lead to choppy trading on Wall Street after recent strength lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to their best closing levels in over a month.

Traders may also be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists currently expect the report to show employment increased by 240,000 jobs in March after climbing by 311,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.6 percent.

While the markets will be closed for Good Friday when the report is released, the data could still impact the outlook for interest rates and the economy.

Ahead of the Labor Department report, payroll processor ADP released a report this morning showing private sector employment increased by less than expected in the month of March.

ADP said private sector employment rose by 145,000 jobs in March after climbing by an upwardly revised 261,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected private sector employment to advance by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 242,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

“Our March payroll data is one of several signals that the economy is slowing,” said ADP chief economist Nela Richardson. “Employers are pulling back from a year of strong hiring and pay growth, after a three-month plateau, is inching down.”

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of February, as exports slumped by more than imports.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Institute for Supply Management is scheduled to release its report on service sector activity in the month of March.

The ISM’s services PMI is expected to edge down to 54.5 in March from 55.1 in February, although a reading above 50 would still indicate growth.

After trending higher in recent sessions, stocks moved back to the downside over the course of the trading day on Tuesday. The major averages showed a lack of direction early in the session but slid firmly into negative territory as the day progressed.

The major averages regained some ground going into the close but remained in the red. The Dow slid 198.77 points or 0.6 percent to 33,402.38, the Nasdaq fell 63.13 points or 0.5 percent to 12,126.37 and the S&P 500 declined 23.91 points or 0.6 percent to 4,100.60.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday, with markets in mainland China and Hong Kong closed for a holiday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.7 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi climbed by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 0.5 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.17 to $80.54 a barrel after rising $0.29 to $80.71 a barrel on Tuesday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $2,045.80, up $7.60 compared to the previous session’s close of $2,038.20. On Tuesday, gold surged $37.80.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 131.03 yen compared to the 131.71 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.0959 compared to yesterday’s $1.0953.

Source: Read Full Article