U.S. stocks were on course to open slightly lower on Monday, with little impetus moving markets ahead of crucial U.S. midterm elections and a Federal Reserve meeting this week. Opinion polls show a strong chance for President Donald Trump’s Republican Party holding the Senate but losing control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats – a potential hurdle to Trump’s pro-business agenda, which has been a major factor for the stock market’s rally since the 2016 election.
“When they are spilt like that, in a divisive environment that we have, nothing much gets done and that’s not the worst thing that could happen for Wall Street,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist, senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York. “But in the short term, the market is going to react negatively because you’re not going to see the kind of favorable legislation that you’ve been seeing in the past couple of years.”
With the Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, investors are fretting over even tighter U.S. monetary policy, especially after a string of strong economic data, including Friday’s jobs report. The upbeat report, however, did little to stop the U.S. market from snapping a three-day rally on Friday, following a bruising October, due to Apple Inc’s downbeat forecast and the White House dampening optimism over U.S.-China trade talks.
“U.S. equity markets need to find traction for this attempt at a rebound higher that took shape last week. Three variables that could well play a hand in that this week are: corporate earnings, the FOMC and midterm elections,” Peter Kenny, founder of Strategic Board Solutions in New York, wrote in a note. “However, I remain constructive.”
At 8:44 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 27 points, or 0.11 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.75 points, or 0.06 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 18 points, or 0.26 percent. Apple’s shares continued their decline on Monday, falling 1.7 percent in premarket trading after the Nikkei reported the company has told two smartphone assemblers to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the low-cost iPhone XR.
Berkshire Hathaway rose 2.6 percent after the conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett said its quarterly operating profit doubled.
Overall, third-quarter results have been stronger than expected, with about 78 percent of the companies so far beating analysts’ estimates, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.