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Light Economic Calendar May Lead To Choppy Trading

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a modestly lower opening on Monday following the lackluster performance seen last Friday. Disappointment with the outcome of the G20 meeting may weigh on the markets, as finance ministers failed to agree on a commitment to keep global trade free and open.

The token reference to trade in the G20 communiqué was seen as a reflection of President Donald Trump's more protectionist policies.

Any early selling pressure is likely to be relatively subdued, however, as a lack of major U.S. economic data may keep some traders on the sidelines.

The economic calendar remains relatively light throughout the week, although traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on new and existing home sales and durable goods orders.

Speeches by a number of Federal Reserve officials may also attract attention this week after the central bank's decision to raise interest rates by a quarter point last week.

With traders seemingly reluctant to make any significant moves, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Friday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the day roughly flat. While the Nasdaq inched up 0.24 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 5,901.00, the Dow slipped 19.93 points or 0.1 percent to 20,914.62 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.13 points or 0.1 percent to 2,378.25.

For the week, the Nasdaq advanced by 0.7 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 edged up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders continued to digest Wednesday's closely watched monetary announcement from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed announced a widely anticipated quarter point increase in interest rates and projected two additional rate hikes this year.

A meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors being held in Germany over the next two days also kept some traders on the sidelines.

Given the protectionist views of the Trump administration, it remains to be seen whether the final statement from the meeting will contain a pledge to resist all forms of protectionism.

Traders largely shrugged off the latest batch of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Fed showing that industrial production was unexpectedly flat in February.

The Fed said industrial production was unchanged in February after edging down by a revised 0.1 percent in January. Economists had expected production to rise by 0.2 percent.

A jump in mining output and a continued increase in manufacturing output were offset by another slump in utilities output amid unseasonably warm weather.

The University of Michigan released a separate report showing a bigger than expected rebound in consumer sentiment in March.

The preliminary report showed that the consumer sentiment index rose to 97.6 in March after dropping to 96.3 in February. Economists had expected the index to rise to 97.0.

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Brokerage stocks saw notable weakness, however, with the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index sliding by 1.3 percent. The index pulled back after showing a strong move to the upside in the two previous sessions.

Steel, banking, and biotechnology stocks also moved to the downside on the day, while some strength was visible among chemical and utilities stocks.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are sliding $0.80 to $47.98 a barrel after inching up $0.03 to $48.78 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,231.10, up $0.90 from the previous session's close of $1,230.20. On Friday, gold rose $3.20.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 112.82 yen compared to the 112.70 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0753 compared to last Friday's $1.0738.


Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday after the G20 finance ministers meeting in Germany failed to agree on a commitment to keep global trade free and open. Japanese markets were closed for the Vernal Equinox holiday.

Chinese stocks closed higher as gains among energy stocks offset declines in the realty sector. China's property market picked up pace in February despite the government announcing a raft of measures to temper speculative demand, data showed on Saturday.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 13.36 points or 0.41 percent to 3,250.81, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 192.06 points or 0.79 percent to 24,501.99.

Meanwhile, Australian shares lost ground after finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20 group of leading economies struggled to find consensus on protectionism and climate change.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 20.70 points or 0.36 percent to end at 5,778.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 20.30 points or 0.35 percent lower at 5,820.50.

Miners and energy stocks paced decliners, with Rio Tinto, Evolution Mining and Santos losing 1-3 percent. Banks also closed mostly lower, with ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac declining between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent.

Online jobs portal SEEK advanced 1.5 percent after the company said it would pay A$119 million to boost its stake in online tertiary education provider Online Education Services to 80 percent.


European stocks have pulled back from the 15-month highs reached on Friday as oil futures extended losses on supply concerns and the dollar weakened across the board ahead of a raft of speeches by Federal Reserve officials this week.

Investors were also disappointed by the outcome of the G20 summit over the weekend in Germany on trade and climate change.

While the German DAX Index has dipped by 0.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both down by 0.2 percent.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group has moved to the downside on reports that it is in talks with former shareholders to resolve claims relating to its 12 billion pound cash-call in 2008. UBS Group has also moved lower after saying it is facing a trial in France over a tax case.

Ingenico shares have tumbled after IT consulting firm Atos denied media reports that it was preparing an offer for the French payments company.

Deutsche Bank has also come under pressure after the German bank fixed the total proceeds from its capital increase against cash contributions at 8.0 billion euros.

In economic news, German producer prices advanced 3.1 percent in February from the prior year, the fastest since December 2011, when prices gained 3.5 percent, figures from Destatis showed. Nonetheless, the annual rate was slightly slower than the 3.2 percent rise economists had forecast.

U.K. consumer price inflation data for February is slated for release tomorrow, with economists expecting the headline index to breach the Bank of England's target of 2 percent. On a monthly basis, the CPI index is expected to rise 0.5 percent, reversing a 0.5 percent drop in the previous month.

U.S. Economic Reports

Following the slew of economic data released last week along with the Fed announcement, the economic calendar for this week is relatively quiet.

Nonetheless, traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on new and existing home sales and durable goods orders as well as speeches by a number of Fed officials.

At 1 pm ET, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is due to speak at a New York National Association for Business Economics Luncheon.

Stocks In Focus

Shares of Array BioPharma (ARRY) are under pressure in pre-market trading after the biopharmaceutical company said it has withdrawn its new drug application for binimetinib monotherapy for the treatment of NRAS-mutant melanoma.

Aevi Genomic Medicine (GNMX) is also likely to open sharply lower after revealing a SAGA trial of AEVI-001 in adolescents with mGluR mutation positive ADHD did not meet its primary endpoint.

On the other hand, shares of Esperion Therapeutics (ESPR) may see early strength after the lipid management company said the FDA confirmed that its LDL-C lowering program is adequate to support approval of an LDL-C lowering indication for bempedoic acid.

Specialty pharmaceutical company Aralez Pharmaceuticals (ARLZ) is also likely to move to the upside on news CEO Adrian Adams acquired an additional 500,000 shares of the company's common stock.

Shares of Transocean (RIG) may be in focus after the oilfield services company agreed to sell 15 drilling rigs to Norway's Borr Drilling for $1.35 billion.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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