By Peter Nurse
Investing.com - U.S. stock markets are set to open a touch higher Monday, clawing back some of Friday’s hefty losses, but the deadly coronavirus in China remains a drag on sentiment as earnings season continues.
At 06:55 AM ET (1155 GMT), futures for the S&P 500 traded 17 points, or 0.5%, higher, futures for the Nasdaq 100 up 53 points, or 0.6%, while the Dow Jones 30 futures contract rose 133 points, or 0.5%.
On Friday, Wall Street closed sharply lower. The S&P dropped 1.8% to 3225.52, its lowest level since October, while the Dow plunged 2.1% to 28,256.03, its largest drop in six months. The Nasdaq slid 1.6% to 9150.94, and is the only major index still on positive ground so far in 2020.
These losses could well prompt some bargain hunting Monday, but the news out of China remains grim. The death toll continued to climb, reaching 361 from 17,205 confirmed cases, while large parts of the Chinese industrial sector remain closed, and are likely to do so until Feb. 10 at the earliest.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said at the weekend it would also close its stores in China until at least Feb. 9 out of what it called "an abundance of caution." Apple gets some 20% of its iPhone sales out of China.
The financial markets on the Chinese mainland did reopen after the government-extended Lunar New Year holiday, but saw sharp losses with the blue-chip Shanghai Composite index closing almost 8% lower, a one-year low, and the yuan losing over 1% against the U.S. dollar.
The tech sector will be in focus Monday as Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is set to report after the close. This will be the company’s first time facing investors after it announced that Sundar Pichai would take over as CEO, after previously being in charge of just the Google section.
So far, there's no sign that spending on digital advertising is weakening. Analysts expect 19% growth in Google’s sales to $46.91 billion in the fourth-quarter when compared with the same period a year ago.
The earnings season has generally been a positive one for Wall Street this quarter. So far just under a half of the S&P 500 has reported, with 69% beating expectations and only 20% missing.
The economic data release of note Monday is the ISM manufacturing index at 10:00 AM ET (1500 GMT), and is expected to see a small uptick in the wake of the phase 1 trade deal between the U.S. and China. This comes ahead of Friday’s key U.S. nonfarm payrolls report.
Crude oil is also in focus Monday amid reports that the major oil producers are considering deeper production cuts to combat the recent price slump.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, are considering a further cut in their oil output of 500,000 barrels per day, Reuters reported, citing sources. The group is considering holding a ministerial meeting on Feb. 14-15, Reuters said, earlier than the current schedule for a meeting in March.
Additionally the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Saudi Arabia may temporarily cut its own output by 1 million barrels a day as a temporary and short-term measure. it cited OPEC officials.
As of 06:55 AM ET (1155 GMT), U.S. crude futures rose 0.4% to $51.76 but the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.2% to $56.51.