S&P 500, Nasdaq Futures Point Higher As Investors Await Key Consumer Sentiment Data

Zinger Key Points
  • A consumer sentiment reading due in early trading could determine the market direction Friday
  • European markets are advancing moderately as investors digest key data from the region
  • Molecular diagnostics stocks could come under pressure amid a couple of disappointing earnings from the space

U.S. index futures are pointing to a moderately positive open on Wall Street on Friday following the lackluster close in the previous session.

At the time of going to press, the Dow futures, the S&P futures, and the Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.34%, 0.41%, and 0.48%, respectively. The Russell 2,000 futures were up a more modest 0.2%, suggesting sentiment is more muted among small-cap stocks.

"The stock market is trying to grab onto any kind of small positive news and act like it's bigger and more important than it really is. And at the same time, the market seems to be ignoring all of the potential risk factors out there like geopolitics, growth slowing, layoffs, etc.," Luke Lloyd, Wealth Advisor & Investment Strategist at Strategic Wealth Partners told Benzinga.

Main Street Data On Tap: The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment data for August is due at 10 a.m. ET. Economists, on average, expect the headline index to show an improvement — from 51.5 to 52.5 in July.

The report also has an inflation gauge in the form of the inflation expectations index, which is a leading indicator as it reflects consumer expectations regarding inflation a year ahead. In July, the reading was at 5.2%.

The Labor Department is set to release the import and export prices report for July at 8:30 a.m. ET. Given it is a second-tier report, it may not be market-moving.

That said, the market reaction may be counter-intuitive for some.

"The market psychology has changed significantly since the pandemic. Good news seems to be bad news and bad news seems to be good news. Bad news just means more liquidity pumped into the system via stimulus & the Fed being more accommodative. Good news means less liquidity and room for the Fed to get more aggressive.," Lloyd added, noting that, "the question is, when will bad news actually be bad news again? That's the trillion dollar question."

Read Wedbush’s review of Q2 tech reporting season and its tech recommendations

Pre-Market Movers: Earnings news continues to dictate sentiment around individual stocks.

  • Rivian Automotive, Inc. RIVN is pulling back after its earnings release, although most of its EV peers, including market leader Tesla, Inc. TSLA were seen trading higher.
  • Pennsylvania-based clinical-stage biotech Larimar Therapeutics, Inc. LRMR is spiking on positive regulatory development.
  • Penny stock Kiora Pharmaceuticals, Inc. KPRX is seen shooting higher amid no news.
  • Nutraceutical and cannabis company Neptune Wellness, Inc. NEPT, which last month delisted from the Toronto stock exchange, is adding one-half to its market cap.
  • Molecular diagnostics companies Illumina ILMN and Co-Diagnostics, Inc. CODX are pulling back following their disappointing quarterly results. This could potentially trigger weaknesses in peers.

Overseas Cues: Sentiment in Asia was somber, with the exception of Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index, which saw a catch-up rally after remaining closed on Thursday.

After advancing over 2.5% on Thursday, September crude futures are continuing to move higher, albeit with a slower momentum.

European stocks are moderately higher as investors shrugged off a weak GDP report from the United Kingdom.

The U.K. economy contracted for the first time since early last year, shrinking by 0.1% quarter-over-quarter in the second quarter, the U.K. Office for National Statistics said in a report. The decline was slower than the 0.3% contraction expected by economists.

Thursday, U.S. stocks closed mixed, squandering some of the early gains built on the back of the producer price inflation report for July, which confirmed the softening inflationary trend. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.58% and the S&P 500 Index ended marginally lower, while Walt Disney, Inc. DIS 4.68% rally helped the Dow edge higher by a small 0.08%. The major averages are either at or trading just off their 3-month highs.

At last check, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY was adding 0.40% to $421.68 and the Invesco QQQ Trust QQQ was seen advancing 0.52% to $325.77, according to Benzinga Pro data.

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