U.S. equity benchmarks appeared headed for a mixed start on Monday, with the Dow seen edging lower, as investors sought fresh reasons to drive indexes, which are all hovering near all-time highs, further into record territory.

How are stock benchmarks trading?

On Friday, the Dow

put in a weekly gain of 3.4%, its largest since the week ended March 12; the S&P 500

rose 2.7% for its sharpest weekly climb since Feb. 5, while the Nasdaq Composite Index

gained 2.4% for its steepest weekly rise since April 9.

What’s driving the market?

Early Monday, markets looked to consolidate a round of strong weekly gains which culminated with the S&P 500 notching its 31st record for 2021 and the other main stock benchmarks about 1%, or less, from records.

The focus, in the past week of June, remains on discussions surrounding infrastructure and the outlook for the economy’s reopening phase as market participants watch COVID variants.

A bipartisan infrastructure bill, that could deliver a fresh jolt to business activity in the U.S., while improving roads, bridges and tunnels, was seen making further progress toward being completed after President Joe Biden over the weekend walked back comments that tied the $1 billion infrastructure bill to an antipoverty package.

Lingering worries about the persistence of growing pricing pressures in the economy’s recovery phase from COVID remain but investors will likely shift their attention to data on the labor market, with the latest update on monthly jobs due on Friday.

The Federal Reserve has insisted that it views inflation as a temporary phenomenon but policy makers have said that improvements in the jobs market will be key in its decision as members weigh when to begin curtailing its program of monthly asset purchases and eventually raising its benchmark interest rate, which currently stand at a range between 0% and 0.25%.

A few Fed officials have already said that they are expecting to raise rates as soon as late 2022, while scaling back asset purchases, or quantitative easing, could commence by the beginning of next year.

On the health front, the number of fully vaccinated Americans rose to 131 million, or 46.1% of the total population, according to the latest data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the number of U.S. adults receiving at least one dose increased to 66%. However, in Australia, officials are battling to contain several COVID-19 clusters around the country, in what some experts have described as the nation’s most dangerous stage of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization on Friday urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks to combat the delta variant of the COVID-19 strain.

Later in the session, banks will disclose how much money that they will be able to distribute to shareholders after passing the Fed’s stress tests last week.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Chinese ride-sharing company DiDi Global Inc. DIDI, set terms for its much anticipated initial public offering on Monday, with plans to offer 288 million American Depositary Shares priced at $13 to $14 each.

  • Cybersecurity company SentinelOne S set terms for its initial public offering on Monday with plans to offer 32 million shares, priced at $31 to $32 each. 

  • Shares of U.K. luxury goods group Burberry BRBY slumped 4% after Marco Gobbetti said he would be leaving the company at the end of the year to take the same role at leather goods maker Salvatore Ferragamo SFER in his native Italy. Burberry said it has begun a search for his successor.

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