Stock market today: US futures subdued as earnings arrive

Wall Street was slow to gain traction in premarket trading ahead of another full slate of corporate earnings and more economic data later in the week.

Futures for the Dow ticked down less than 0.1% and the S&P 500 was essentially unchanged before the bell Wednesday.

Shares of Activision Blizzard tumbled more than 11% after British regulators blocked Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to buy videogame maker over worries that it would stifle competition in the cloud gaming market. The all-cash deal was set to be the biggest in the history of the tech industry.

Microsoft shares were still humming along, up about 7% in premarket, thanks to a strong earnings report after the bell on Tuesday.

Shares of Boeing rose early on plans to boost production of its Max jets, despite a loss for the first quarter.

U.S. markets fell a day earlier, even as earnings reports from major companies continued to beat expectations. Geopolitical tensions, another regional bank in crisis and anxiety over stubborn inflation and a potential recession continue to hang over markets.

“From a banking crisis still hovering just beneath the surface to the realization Russia has long-range missiles that are incredibly accurate that no one has the capacity to stop, to the sharply higher China-U.S. tensions, more sanctions against both Russia and China, and the likely further unravelling of global trade and the reemergence of higher inflation, risks are huge,” Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, said in a commentary.

“None of this a pretty picture paints. Yet this is the reality of the current moment,” he said.

First Republic Bank continued its freefall in premarket trading Wednesday, sliding 18% one day after it saw almost half its value wiped away.

In Europe at midday, France’s CAC 40 lost 1.1% in early trading, while Germany’s DAX declined 0.7%. Britain’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.4%.

In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.7% to finish at 28,416.47. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped nearly 0.1% to 7,316.30. South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2% to 2,484.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.7% to 19,757.27, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed at 3,264.10.

Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co.’s shares fell 0.7% after the company announced plans to step up its shift to electric vehicles.

On Wall Street on Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 1.6%, breaking out of a weekslong lull. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1%, while the Nasdaq composite sank 2% to 11,799.16.

Earnings reported in the U.S. have so far topped economists’ modest expectations.

Looking ahead, forecasts are for the worst drop in S&P 500 earnings since the spring of 2020, when the pandemic froze the global economy. So Wall Street is focused just as much, if not more, on what companies say about their future prospects as what they say about the past three months.

High interest rates meant to get inflation under control put the brakes on the entire economy, hurting investment prices. Big chunks of the economy, apart from employment, already have begun to slow or contract.

A report Tuesday showed that confidence among consumers fell more sharply in April than expected, down to its lowest level since July. That’s a discouraging signal when consumer spending makes up the biggest part of the U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve meets next week and may raise interest rates at least one more time before pausing.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude dipped 17 cents to $76.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 41 cents to $80.19 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar fell to 133.33 Japanese yen from 133.72 yen. The euro cost $1.1047, up from $1.0977.


Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.