Thursday September 16th


U.S. stock futures are down again as markets try to shake September funk

U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Thursday following a rebound on Wall Street as the market tried to avert September’s seasonally weak trading pattern. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 14 points. S&P 500 futures lost 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 0.2% Moderna rose slightly in premarket trading after the company released more data on breakthrough Covid cases that supports the push for the wide use of vaccine booster shots. Futures could be on hold until traders get a look at August retail sales due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Retail sales are expected to decrease by 0.8% month-over-month, according to the consensus estimate from Dow Jones. Investors will also monitor the latest jobless claims data on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect a total of 320,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance in the week ended Sept.11, slightly up from 310,000 in the week prior. In Wednesday’s regular trading session, the S&P 500 gained 0.9% Wednesday amid a 3.8% jump in the energy sector, posting its biggest daily increase since Aug. 27. The blue-chip Dow advanced more than 200 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8%. Despite a rebound on Wednesday, the S&P 500 and the Dow are still in the red for September. So far this month, the 30-stock Dow is down 1.6%, while the S&P 500 has declined 0.9%, on track for its worst monthly performance since January. The Nasdaq has fallen 0.6% this month. After seven straight months of gains for the S&P 500 and a near 20% rally to records this year, many on Wall Street expect bumpier trading and lower returns for the rest of the year. History is also not on the market’s side as September tends to be a typically negative month for stocks. The S&P 500 has fallen 0.56% during the month on average since 1945, according to data from CFRA. Friday begins a particularly weak period for stocks as those September losses typically come in the back half of the month. “The wall of worry is becoming increasingly challenging to climb, with rising depth and breadth of concerns and a potentially tired market,” said Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research. “The stress factors facing the market have not materially changed, including the Delta variant, earnings headwinds from supply chain and labor challenges, fiscal and monetary tailwind shifting to headwinds and bubbling concerns around China,” Hackett said. Another reason why the back half of September could be volatile is due to so-called quadruple witching occurring at the end of the week as stock and index futures and options are set to expire on the same day. Asia-Pacific stocks were largely lower on Thursday, with Chinese stocks leading losses regionally. By the mainland market close on Thursday, the Shanghai composite dropped 1.34% to 3,607.09 while the Shenzhen component plunged 1.954% to 14,258.13. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 1.46% to close at 24,667.85, with most casino stocks listed in the city seeing a second straight day of sharp losses. Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.62% to close at 30,323.34 while the Topix index fell 0.3% to end the trading day at 2,090.16. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.74% lower at 3,130.09. Oil prices slipped on Thursday, but kept most of the previous day’s gains after a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude oil stocks in the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer. Brent crude oil fell 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $75.29 a barrel, after settling up 2.5% the previous day. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $72.40, after settling 3.1% higher on Wednesday. Gold prices drifted lower on Thursday, with a firmer dollar and U.S bond yields diminishing its appeal, as investors turned their attention to next week’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting for clues on when it would begin tapering its stimulus. Spot gold was 0.5% down at $1,784.35 per ounce by 0859 GMT, while U.S. gold futures also fell 0.5% to $1,785.10. The dollar index rose 0.2% , increasing the cost of purchasing bullion for those holding other currencies.