The stock market is acting a little cranky in its return from the three-day Easter weekend.
The S&P futures are down eight points and are trading 0.3% below fair value. The Nasdaq 100 futures are down 44 points and are trading 0.7% below fair value. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are down 113 points and trading 0.2% below fair value.
Some familiar bugaboos are drawing the blame for the negative disposition:
- Trade war concerns after China imposed tariffs on 128 products imported from the U.S. (as it said it would)
- Political angst after President Trump threatened to end NAFTA if Mexico doesn't do more to curb illegal immigration and the flow of drugs to the U.S.
- A 1.6% decline in shares of Amazon.com (AMZN) following continued attacks by the president who thinks the company should pay more taxes and higher shipping rates to the U.S. Post Office
- A 3.7% drop in shares of Tesla (TSLA) following a Model S recall and the disclosure (which has drawn the NTSB's ire) that Autopilot was engaged just before a fatal Model X crash
Other macro factors include a weaker than expected manufacturing PMI report out of China and the continued angst about potential regulatory pressure on the likes of Amazon, Alphabet (GOOG), and Facebook (FB).
There is a bit of a match game in play at the moment, whereby commentators are matching the headlines with the demeanor of the futures market. That happens when there isn't much that is "new" to talk about.
One new item is a report from The Wall Street Journal that indicates Walmart (WMT) is in early talks to acquire Humana (HUM). Shares of HUM are up 5.7% following the report.
Strikingly, that news has offered little support for the broader market, yet it's safe to say that if the futures market was trading higher this morning, it would be a lead headline helping to explain the positive bias.
We should point out that major European bourses were closed today in continued observance of the Easter holiday. That has led to some thinning of the ranks that will hold down trading volume.
Some key economic data today includes the ISM Manufacturing Index for March (Briefing.com consensus 60.0; prior 60.8) and the Construction Spending Report for February (Briefing.com consensus +0.5%; prior 0.0%). Both reports will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
The biggest report this week, however, will be the March Employment Situation Report. That report will be released on Friday.
The specter of what the employment report could mean for monetary policy could be holding back buying interest this morning, yet that thought is little more than a convenient excuse to be used amid some other convenient excuses to explain the expected weakness ahead of today's open.