U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday as investors preferred to play safe amid rising geopolitical tensions in Syria and North Korea and ahead of the start of first-quarter earnings season later this week.
The White House said on Monday President Donald Trump was open to authorizing additional strikes on Syria if its government uses chemical weapons again or deploys barrel bombs, while North Korea warned of a nuclear attack on the United States if it was provoked.
Prices of safe-haven gold rose, with spot gold up the most in over one month. Investors also ditched riskier assets for the Japanese yen and U.S. Treasuries, which are favored during times of uncertainty. The dollar index slipped the most in just over two weeks.
Investors also appeared to remain on the sidelines ahead of the start of the first-quarter earnings season, which begins in earnest on Thursday when three big U.S. banks report. A rally in financial stocks has fizzled as investors fret over lofty valuations and Trump’s ability to make good on his pro-growth promises.
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Trump will meet with about 20 chief executives, including the heads of General Motors, IBM and Wal-Mart, as he seeks to garner support for the administration’s plans for corporate tax reform, boosting infrastructure and cutting federal regulations. Wall Street ended flat in choppy, low-volume trading on Monday as investors weighed the rise in oil prices against a decline in bank stocks.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari is scheduled to speak at an event later on Tuesday. No top-tier economic news is due for the day. Among premarket movers, RetailMeNot jumped 48.4 percent to $11.50 after agreeing to be bought by marketing services company Harland Clarke for about $630 million.
Futures snapshot at 7:02 a.m. EDT: Dow e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.02 percent, with 21,588 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 123,584 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0 percent, on volume of 22,364 contracts.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)