U.S. Stocks May Give Back Ground In Early Trading

After moving sharply higher over the past few sessions, stocks may give back some ground in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a substantially lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 548 points.

Profit taking may contribute to initial weakness on Wall Street, as some traders look to cash in on the strong gains seen in recent days.

Lingering concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus may weigh on the markets, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. surpasses the number of cases in China or Italy.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been nearly 86,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 1,300 deaths.

Meanwhile, traders are likely to keep an eye on the latest developments in Washington, where the House is scheduled to vote on the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Senate late Wednesday.

With many members currently stuck at home, House Democratic leaders hope to pass by the bill by voice vote but could face challenges if there are any objections.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in personal income in February, although the data may be shrugged off as old news.

The report said personal income climbed by 0.6 percent in February, matching the increase seen in January. Economists had expected income to rise by 0.4 percent.

The Commerce Department also said personal spending edged up by 0.2 percent for the second straight month, matching expectations.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its revised reading on consumer sentiment in the month of March.

The consumer sentiment index for March is expected to be downwardly revised to 90 from the preliminary reading of 95.9, which was down from 101.0 in February.

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday as traders shrugged off data showing a spike in first-time jobless claims. The Dow and the S&P 500 closed higher for the third straight day, climbing further off Monday’s three-year lows.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the day just off their highs of the session. The Dow spiked 1,351.62 points or 6.4 percent to 22,552.17, the Nasdaq soared 413.24 points or 5.6 percent to 7,797.54 and the S&P 500 skyrocketed 154.51 points or 6.2 percent to 2,630.07.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 3.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have shown substantial moves back to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has plummeted by 5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 4 percent and the German DAX Index is down by 3.3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.52 to $22.08 a barrel after tumbling $1.89 to $22.60 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after jumping $26 to $1,660.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slumping $24.30 to $1,636 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.76 yen versus the 109.58 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0980 compared to yesterday’s $1.1032.

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