July 16, 2018 / 12:07 PM / in 2 months

US STOCKS-Futures flat as drop in oil prices trims earnings enthusiasm

July 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were trading flat on Monday as a strong report from Bank of America reinforced expectations of a strong earnings season, but a drop in crude oil priced capped some early gains.

Shares of Bank of America rose 0.9 percent in premarket trading after the second-largest U.S. lender’s quarterly profit beat analysts expectations on lower expenses and growth in loans and deposits.

This follows mixed earnings reports from three of its Wall Street peers on Friday, which dragged down bank stocks but could not stop the S&P 500 from closing at its highest level in more than five months.

The markets have been expecting a strong second-quarter earnings, which for S&P 500 companies is expected to have surged around 21 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Of the 27 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings through Friday, 85.2 percent have topped earnings expectations.

Most of the earnings growth is expected to be from energy companies. But their stocks were off to a lower start on Monday after oil prices slipped as concerns about supply disruptions eased, Libyan ports reopened and traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.

Exxon dropped 0.7 percent and Chevron dipped 0.8 percent, the biggest decliners among the Dow components in premarket trading.

At 7:31 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.5 points, or 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis remained unchanged.

On the macro front, data at 8.30 a.m. ET is expected to show U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent in June, after a 0.8 percent gain in May. Excluding autos, retail sales likely increased 0.4 percent.

Investors will also focus on the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, where they are expected to discuss the prospect of extending a nuclear disarmament treaty and the war in Syria.

The Kremlin said it did not expect much from the meeting, but hoped it would be a “first step” to resolving a crisis in ties.

“Russia and U.S. meeting is important because the United States’s relationship with its European allies is already at an all-time low,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets said in a note.

“If Trump and Putin’s relation improves further, it would bring more friction between the U.S. and the European Union.”

Among stocks, Arconic jumped 12.4 percent after brokerage Jefferies initiated coverage with a “buy” rating.

Netflix was up 0.2 percent ahead of its earnings report, expected after markets close. Amazon.com also gained 0.2 percent as its ‘Prime Day’ shopping event kicked off. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)

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