U.S. stocks are seen opening marginally lower Friday, with investors ending the week on a cautious note ahead of key sentiment data and with an eye on next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.
At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was down 70 points, or 0.2%, S&P 500 Futures traded 10 points, or 0.2%, lower, while Nasdaq 100 Futures dropped 35 points, or 0.2%.
The main indices are marginally higher so far this week, but September has been a difficult month, as a rise in Covid-19 deaths, regulatory concerns in China, elevated valuations and the uncertainty surrounding the possibility of central banks cutting back their monetary stimulus all weighed.
The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.7% so far this month, the broad-based S&P 500 is off by 1.1% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite has lost 0.5%.
Next week’s Federal Reserve meeting is limiting trading activity amid uncertainty over whether the central bank will announce a timeline for asset tapering, but Friday’s Quadruple Witching Day, when contracts on four different types of financial assets expire, could prompt more volatility.
The main data release is the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, at 10 AM ET (1400 GMT), which is seen improving to 72 from August’s 70.3.
In corporate news, Invesco (NYSE:IVZ) will be in the spotlight after the Wall Street Journal reported that the investment management company is in talks to merge with State Street ‘s (NYSE:STT) asset-management business.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing (NYSE:BA) will also be in focus after a report that one of its pilots could face criminal charges for allegedly misleading regulators over the safety of the 737 MAX.
Crude prices weakened Friday as supply slowly comes back online in the hurricane-hit U.S. Gulf of Mexico region, but losses are small as the recovery in output is still seen lagging demand.
As of Thursday, about 28% of Gulf crude production – over 510,000 barrels a day – remained offline, more than two weeks after Hurricane Ida hit.
By 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% lower at $72.25 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 0.4% to $75.37. Both contracts are on course to post weekly gains of around 4%.
The CFTC’s speculative net positioning data and Baker Hughes’ oil rig count are due later in the session.
Additionally, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,761.10/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1774.