Currently, the S&P futures are down six points, the Nasdaq 100 futures are down 10 points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are down 55 points.
The negative disposition doesn't stem from a pinpoint headline. Rather, it seems to be the offshoot of a general feeling of disenchantment with the current state of things.
Confidence in a tax reform package coming together by the end of the year is being dialed back; a state of nervous readiness is being dialed up in front of Hurricane Irma's arrival this weekend to the U.S. mainland; and pundits are dialed in on the potential for another test missile launch by North Korea this weekend.
At the same time, market participants might be hoping that the dial is turned on the financial sector, which has had a dreadful showing this week with insurers and banks leading the sector 3.6% lower.
The weakness in the insurers has been directly related to worries about claim costs pertaining to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma -- and possibly Hurricane Jose, which is hot on Irma's heels. Meanwhile, a flattening yield curve driven by a drop in long-term rates is feeding earnings concerns for the banks.
The drop in rates, the continued decline in the dollar, and the weakness in the financials are being looked upon as proxies for the market's waning confidence in the so-called reflation trade that had been previously pumped up by grand thoughts of tax reform, infrastructure spending, and regulatory relief.
Those things could still happen, yet the message of the market these days is that they are unlikely to happen as easily, or be as grand, as previously thought. Press reports on an allegedly fractured relationship between President Trump and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who is a point person on the tax reform effort, have contributed to the market's misgivings.
Separately, a mixed trade report out of China, which posted weaker than expected export growth and stronger than expected import growth in August, has contributed to this morning's lack of buying conviction. It's not a major contributor, yet it's part of the equation that is imbalanced right now for the stock market.
The Wholesale Inventories report for July (Briefing.com consensus 0.4%) at 10:00 a.m. ET and the Consumer Credit report for July (Briefing.com consensus $15.0 billion) at 3:00 p.m. ET are the lone reports of note on the U.S. economic calendar. Neither is expected to have any market-moving impact.
In corporate news, Kroger (KR) reported in-line earnings results for its second quarter and said it is only going to provide annual guidance, and not longer-term guidance, in this "dynamic operating environment."
That update hasn't sat well with investors, as shares of Kroger, which were down 34% for the year as of Thursday's close, are indicated 6.3% lower in pre-market trading. That's yet another reminder of how expectations on a number of fronts are being dialed back.