Stock Market Today: US futures point to a flat opening on Monday

Feb 26, 2024
  • Wall Street’s main indexes hit new all-time highs last week.
  • US stock index futures trade flat on Monday.
  • The US economic calendar will feature key data releases later in the week.

Nasdaq futures trade flat at 17,994.50, Dow Jones futures are down 0.1% at 39,145.00 and S&P futures are virtually unchanged at 5,099.50 ahead of the opening bell on Monday.

What to know before stock market opens

  • Dow Jones and S&P 500 both closed at new all-time highs on Friday, gaining 1.3% and 1.6% on a weekly basis. Profit-taking caused the Nasdaq Composite to close the last trading day of the week in negative territory, but the index added 1.4% for the week.
  • The Technology Sector started off the day as the best-performing major S&P 500 sector on Friday, rising nearly 1% before swinging to losses, ending the day down 0.27%. The Utilities Sector rose 0.71% to become Friday’s best-performing sector, while the Energy Sector was down 0.58% at the closing bell.
  • Palo Alto Network (PANW) gained 5.3% on Friday, ending at $282.09, while Booking Holdings Inc. (BKNG) tumbled 10.15% as the biggest loser, closing at $3,505.96.
  • Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) initially gained more than 3% on Friday to trade at a new record-high of $823.94 but pulled back in the back half of the trading day to finish at $788.17, up around 0.36%. Nevertheless, NVDA was up over 8% for the week, closing in positive territory for the seventh consecutive week.
  • The chipmaker had reported on Wednesday that earnings per share topped $5.16 versus the $4.64 forecast, while revenue climbed to $22.10 billion compared to the expected $20.62 billion. The company also said that it forecasts the current-quarter revenue of $24 billion, plus or minus 2%. Mizuho has raised the target price for Nvidia stock to $850 from $825, HSBC lifted its target to $880 from $835 and Citigroup revised its expectation to $820 from $575.
  • The US Census Bureau will publish New Home Sales data for January on Monday. Later in the American session, the US Treasury will hold 2-year and 5-year note auctions. 
  • On Tuesday, January Durable Goods Orders data will be featured in the economic calendar before the US Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the second estimate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the fourth quarter on Wednesday. Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) preferred gauge of inflation, figures will be scrutinized by market participants on Thursday. 
  • New York Fed President John Williams said on Friday that he expects the US central bank to start lowering the policy rate in the second half of the year. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, markets are pricing in a nearly 80% probability that the Fed will leave the policy rate unchanged at 5.25%-5.5% in the next two meetings. 
  • Workday, Inc. (WDAY) and ONEOK Inc. (OKE) are among the top companies that will report quarterly earnings after the closing bell on Monday.

S&P 500 FAQs

The S&P 500 is a widely followed stock price index which measures the performance of 500 publicly owned companies, and is seen as a broad measure of the US stock market. Each company’s influence on the computation of the index is weighted based on market capitalization. This is calculated by multiplying the number of publicly traded shares of the company by the share price. The S&P 500 index has achieved impressive returns – $1.00 invested in 1970 would have yielded a return of almost $192.00 in 2022. The average annual return since its inception in 1957 has been 11.9%.

Companies are selected by committee, unlike some other indexes where they are included based on set rules. Still, they must meet certain eligibility criteria, the most important of which is market capitalization, which must be greater than or equal to $12.7 billion. Other criteria include liquidity, domicile, public float, sector, financial viability, length of time publicly traded, and representation of the industries in the economy of the United States. The nine largest companies in the index account for 27.8% of the market capitalization of the index.

There are a number of ways to trade the S&P 500. Most retail brokers and spread betting platforms allow traders to use Contracts for Difference (CFD) to place bets on the direction of the price. In addition, that can buy into Index, Mutual and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) that track the price of the S&P 500. The most liquid of the ETFs is State Street Corporation’s SPY. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offers futures contracts in the index and the Chicago Board of Options (CMOE) offers options as well as ETFs, inverse ETFs and leveraged ETFs.

Many different factors drive the S&P 500 but mainly it is the aggregate performance of the component companies revealed in their quarterly and annual company earnings reports. US and global macroeconomic data also contributes as it impacts on investor sentiment, which if positive drives gains. The level of interest rates, set by the Federal Reserve (Fed), also influences the S&P 500 as it affects the cost of credit, on which many corporations are heavily reliant. Therefore, inflation can be a major driver as well as other metrics which impact the Fed decisions.

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