Monday June 1st


Stock futures are flat to begin June as Wall Street aims for third straight monthly advance

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat day to begin June trading on Wall Street after consecutive monthly gains. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures implied an opening loss of about 20 points. Dow futures slipped 42 points or 0.1%. S&P 500 futures pointed to an opening loss of about 0.2% while Nasdaq 100 futures suggested a slip of 0.3%. The S&P 500 and Dow each gained at least 3% last week while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.8% to close out May. Those gains were propelled by increasing bets by traders that the global economy will successfully reopen after the coronavirus forces a shutdown of most economic activity. Last week’s gains led the major averages to their first back-to-back monthly advances since late 2019. The Dow and S&P 500 gained 4.3% and 4.5%, respectively, for May while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 6.8%. Here’s what traders were monitoring heading into the new month: States continue to reopen their economies after the coronavirus pandemic forced the country to shutter nonessential businesses. The reopening is now taking place amid widespread protests across the U.S. over police brutality. Stocks closely linked to the economy reopening continued their gains on Monday. Cruise line, hotel and airline shares were higher in premarket trading. Traders are also grappling with rising tensions between China and the U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday the U.S. would end its special treatment towards Hong Kong. The announcement came after China had approved a national security bill that would increase the mainland’s power over the city. However, Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief as Trump did not say he would pull the U.S. out of the phase one trade deal reached earlier this year. Data showed China’s manufacturing activity in expanding in May. Investors have been monitoring China’s economic data for signs of recovery in the country, where the coronavirus was first reported. Disappointing trial results from Pfizer for a breast cancer drug dampened market sentiment. The company made the announcement Friday evening. Its shares were down 6% in Monday premarket trading. “Nothing that has happened since the market closed on Friday has been market positive,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “When you think about clearly we’re beginning to take U.S.-China tensions seriously and you add on to that the massive amount of disruption going on in almost every major city in the country right now, none of that could be seen as market positive.” “At the levels we’re at, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the market take a pause and pull back,” Hogan added. The S&P 500 is up 38% from its intraday low set on March 23. Before May’s gains, the S&P 500 surged 12.7% in April. The Dow gained 11% in April. “The main downside risk facing stocks is a second wave of the disease,” said Peter Berezin, chief global strategist at BCA Research, in a note to clients. “If fears of a new outbreak were to escalate, risk assets would suffer.” Berezin added, however, he recommends a “modest overweight” portfolio allocation to stocks, noting: “Even if a vaccine does not become available later this year, increased testing should allow for a more economically palatable approach to containment strategies.” Stocks in Asia Pacific were higher on Monday as data releases showed China’s factory activity expanding in May. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led gains among the region’s major indexes, surging 3.36% on the day to close at 23,732.52. Mainland Chinese stocks also saw robust gains on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 2.21% to about 2,915.43 while the Shenzhen component surged 3.314% to around 11,102.15. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.84% higher at 22,062.39. The Topix index finished its trading day 0.32% higher at 1,568.75. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.75% to close at 2,065.08. Reuters reported Monday that the country’s exports in May fell 23.7% year-on-year. That was worse than expectations in a Reuters poll of a median drop of 22.1% year-on-year. Oil prices were steady on Monday helped by reports that OPEC and Russia were closer to a deal on extending oil cuts but held back by renewed tension between the United States and China. Benchmark Brent crude fell 16 cents, or 0.45%, to trade at $35.32 per barrel, while U.S. crude gained 18 cents to trade at $38.02 per barrel. Gold prices rose on Monday as the dollar weakened and jitters over riots in U.S. cities, as well as rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, boosted demand for the safe-haven metal. Spot gold was up 0.5% to $1,735.47 per ounce, having surged 1% earlier. U.S. gold futures eased 0.2% to $1,748.40.