1. U.S. Futures Point to Flat Open
U.S. stock futures pointed to a muted open, as market players looked ahead to the latest batch of quarterly earnings reports.
At 5:30AM ET (10:30 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 20 points, or less than 0.1%, the S&P 500 futures tacked on 1 point, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 5 points.
Elsewhere, European stocks were mixed, with regional indices experiencing a choppy start to the trading week.
Earlier, markets in Asia closed mixed in subdued trade as many of the region’s bourses were shut for the Lunar New Year. China’s financial markets are closed all week, while those in South Korea are shut until Thursday.
2. Alphabet Kicks Off Busy Week of Earnings
About 90 S&P 500 companies are due to report financial results this week, in what will be one of the last big waves of the fourth-quarter earnings season.
Monday sees Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) post results after the close. The tech giant is expected to report earnings per share of $10.88 on revenue of $38.91 billion, according to estimates.
Results from Clorox (NYSE:CLX), Sysco (NYSE:SYY), Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), and Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) are also on the agenda for Monday.
3. U.S. Jobs Data Keeps Dollar Firm
Away from equities, the U.S. dollar pushed higher against its major rivals, as strong employment data pointed to underlying strength in the world’s largest economy, underpinning demand for the greenback.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.2% at 95.48.
Meanwhile, in the bond market, U.S. Treasury prices slipped, pushing yields higher across the curve, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising to 2.70%, pulling further away from a four-week low of 2.619% hit earlier last week.
Monday’s rather light economic calendar features factory orders figures for November due at 10:00AM ET (15:00 GMT).
4. Oil Prices Hit 2019 Highs
In commodities, oil prices rose to their best levels of the year on signs that U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan exports have helped tighten supply.
Data showing that U.S. energy firms last week cut the number of oil rigs operating to their lowest in eight months and overall optimism over OPEC-led supply cuts also contributed to gains.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed to a 2019 high of $55.74 a barrel, a level not seen since Nov. 21. It was last at $55.55, up 28 cents, or around 0.5%.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $63.39 per barrel, up 64 cents, or 1%. It earlier rose to its strongest level since Dec. 7 at $63.63.
5. May Continues to Search for Brexit Deal
British Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a new initiative in her fight to secure a Brexit deal with Brussels before the U.K. leaves the European Union in 53 days.
An ‘Alternative Arrangements Working Group’ will meet for the first time on Monday to discuss a new way forward on Brexit, according to a statement from May’s press team.
Chaired by Steve Barclay, the U.K.’s secretary of state for Brexit, the new AAWG will be attended by prominent pro-Brexit and pro-Europe Conservative lawmakers. Additional meetings will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, the statement said.
With less than two months until Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, concerns are growing over the risk of a disorderly ‘no deal’ exit.
The pound was lower, amid the continued uncertainty, with GBP/USD sliding to 1.3050.