MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Set For Small Opening Gains As French Election Fears Linger
By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
U.S. stocks head for firm weekly gains
U.S. stocks were set for a slightly higher open on Friday, boosted by optimism over imminent tax reforms, but with investors taking a cautious stance ahead of the closely watched presidential election in France.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched 10 points higher, or 0.1%, to 20,538, while those for the S&P 500 index added 2.65 points, or 0.1%, to 2,354.75. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index climbed 10 points, or 0.2%, to 5,452.75.
The indications of a positive open come after U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday after a deluge of stronger-than-expected corporate earnings reports and economic data. Comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said that President Donald Trump's tax overhaul will be unveiled in the near future, also bolstered sentiment.
The S&P 500 index ended 0.8% higher, while the Dow average gained 0.9%. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.9% to end at a record close. As of Thursday's close, the benchmarks were set for weekly gains in the range of 0.6% to 1.9%.
"A move by Trump to challenge steel imports and positive tax reform rhetoric from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin revived hopes for the fabled Trump 'reflation trade,'" said analysts at Accendo Markets, in a note.
"Markets have also taken in their stride another terror attack in the French capital just days before Sunday's first round of the Presidential election," they added.
Late Thursday, a gunman opened fire on the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris, killing a police officer and wounding two others. European stocks were slightly lower after a positive open, with France's CAC 40 index down 0.8%.
The euro was trading at $1.0720, little changed from $1.0718 late Thursday in New York.
The attack could give a late-campaign surge in support for anti-immigration, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the tight presidential race, analysts said. Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on France's membership of the European Union, fueling fears of a breakup of the bloc. One of her three key rivals, far-left euroskeptic Jean Luc Melenchon, has also pledged to renegotiate EU treaties and hold a referendum.
"A Le Pen (far right) & Mélenchon (far left) result would surely raise alarms. Markets look to be pricing in something between the two with [centrist candidate Emmanuel] Macron and Le Pen progressing to the second round in a fortnight's time, although the last year of global political events has taught us to expect the unexpected," the Accendo analysts said.
Economic news: Wrapping up the data calendar for the week, flash purchasing managers indexes for April are due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time.
Existing home sales for March come out at 10 a.m.
In Federal Reserve news, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will moderate a discussion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer gives an interview on CNBC between 11 a.m. and 11:30 am Eastern.
Earnings season: The results season continues at full speed on Friday with General Electric Co.(>> General Electric Company) , Honeywell International Inc.(>> Honeywell International Inc.) and Schlumberger Ltd.(>> Schlumberger Limited.) expected to report premarket.
After the market closed on Thursday, Visa Inc.(V) reported better-than-expected revenue , sending shares 2.6% higher in Friday's premarket trade.
Shares of Mattel Inc.(>> Mattel, Inc.) could also move after the toy maker's quarterly results out late Thursday fell short of Wall Street estimates .
Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed mainly higher , boosted by the higher close in the U.S. on Thursday.
Oil and gold prices were largely flat. The dollar was little changed against other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index down less than 0.1%.