LONDON (ShareCast) – US markets are set to open lower Wednesday following declines in European and Asian sessions as investors cut positions ahead of Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting and Friday’s US monthly jobs report. The S&P 500 front month futures contract is indicating a soft open on Wall Street, off 0.44% at 2108 while the corresponding DJIA contract is down 0.47% at 18,203.
The weakness follows on from losses in the European session on Wednesday and a retreat in Asian share markets overnight. Tuesday’s move off all-time highs by the S&P 500 triggered losses across global equity markets.
Despite the prospects of more stimulus from central banks and economic data holding up well, stock market traders are adopting a cautious stance ahead of key events like Thursday’s ECB meeting and the US monthly jobs report due Friday.
Not even the current tug-of-war between Greece and the Eurogroup over the extension of Greece’s financial assistance dampens sentiment in financial markets, said Sarasin, a Swiss private bank. “This shows that portfolio shifts into equities (a direct consequence of expansionary monetary policy) remain the key driving force,” it added.
Wednesday’s focus is on the ADP jobs data from the US which shows the world’s largest economy created 212,000 jobs last month. That’s below estimates of 219,000 and slightly below January’s reading of 213,000. On the plus side however, ADP revised the reading for January to 250,000 from 213,000.
The ADP report is widely seen as a precursor to Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report which is expected to show the US economy generated 240,000 jobs.
Earlier, other figures showed the average number of US mortgage applications for last week edged up 0.1% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted purchase index fell 0.2% from the previous week. The unadjusted purchase index, meanwhile, rose 14% from the previous week but fell 0.2% from the year-earlier period.
Wednesday’s macro menu also includes the Institute for Supply Management’s February non-manufacturing report on business. Although economists see this indicator easing from the January readout, the forecast number would still reflect a solid expansionary state in the US services sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of GDP.
The Federal Reserve’s Board Beige Book will also be in focus to gauge what the driving factors are behind the broader rebound in the US economy.
In company news, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF – news) reported of negative like-for-like sales growth in the fourth qaurter and warned that the first half of 2015 will “remain challenging.”