Wall Street was set to open lower on Monday, deepening wounds from Friday, as investors sold off riskier assets following increasing evidence of a U.S. interest rate hike as early as next week.
Even as the Federal Reserve has given little indication on the timing of the next rate hike, investors have taken cues from a number of top central bank officials hinting at a possible raise at the Fed’s next policy-setting meeting on Sept. 20-21.
The latest was Atlanta Fed Bank President Dennis Lockhart who said current economic conditions called for a “serious discussion” on rates at the September meeting. But, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari suggested to CNBC that he saw little urgency to take action given the state of the economy.
Fed Governor and permanent voting member Lael Brainard’s speech, the last scheduled by a Fed member before the meeting, will be scrutinized to see if she maintains her dovish stance on rates or takes a more aggressive posture. Her speech, which was not announced until Friday, is at 1:15 p.m. ET (1715).
“(The decline in futures) has to do with interest rates and a negative spike in expectations that rates are going to go up based on recent talk from Fed officials,” said Michael Yoshikami, CEO at Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California.
While the labor market firms up, inflation has remained frustratingly below the Fed’s 2 percent target. Traders have priced in a 24 percent rate hike in September, and a 59.2 percent chance in December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
Dow e-minis were down 109 points, or 0.6 percent at 8:31 a.m. ET, with 15,733 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 3.75 points, or 0.18 percent, with 264,620 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 15.75 points, or 0.34 percent, on volume of 20,821 contracts.
The CBOE Volatility index, also called Wall Street’s “fear gauge” rose to 19.04 – its highest level since in the aftermath of the Brexit vote in late June.
The rising expectations of a September rate hike had sent the three major U.S. stock indexes tumbling on Friday in their worst decline since the Brexit vote.
That distanced the benchmark S&P 500 index from its record highs, which it has been clocking since July when expectations of a rate hike this year were muted.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s illness added another layer of uncertainty in the markets in the final weeks before the November elections.
Shares of technology stocks, including Apple, Alphabet, Facebook were down about 0.5 percent in premarket trading.
Bank stocks – Citigroup, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo were off between 0.7 and 0.8 percent.
Perrigo rose 4.45 percent after activist investor Starboard Value disclosed a 4.6 percent stake and delivered a letter to the drugmaker’s executives.