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James Hyerczyk
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US Stock Index Futures

U.S. stock index futures are down sharply in Friday’s pre-market session as a disappointing earnings report from Amazon.com threatened to dampen an otherwise strong month ahead of July’s final day of trading. The early price action has put the major futures indexes in a position to post a potentially bearish closing price reversal top. If confirmed, this could mean a weak start to August.

Early Trading Results

At 04:41 GMT, September E-mini S&P 500 Index futures are trading 4378.25, down 33.50 or -0.76%. September E-mini Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are at 34863, down 111 or -0.32% and September E-mini NASDAQ-100 Index is trading 34861, down 113 or -0.32%.

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Possible Bearish Divergence

On Thursday, the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial touched record highs but the NASDAQ Composite underperformed. This created a divergence in the major indexes, suggesting weakness in the technology sector.

Weighing on the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite during the regular session were shares of Facebook, which tumbled 4% after the social media company’s earnings report.

A disappointing IPO from online brokerage firm Robinhood helped cap NASDAQ’s gains throughout the regular session. The stock opened at $38 per share on Thursday, but eventually closed its debut session more than 8% lower at $34.82 per share.

The weakness carried over into the after-hours and pre-market sessions after e-commerce giant Amazon and social media platform Pinterest released their earnings reports to investors.

Amazon equity sank 7.4% in extended trading after it reported its first quarterly revenue miss in three years and gave weaker guidance. The move in Amazon’s stock helped weigh on NASDAQ-100 futures. Pinterest fell even further, down 19%, after saying it lost monthly users during the three months ended June 30.

Thursday Recap

Thursday’s positive session came despite a government report that showed U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product accelerated 6.5% on an annualized basis, considerably less than the 8.4% Dow Jones estimate. Meanwhile, weekly initial claims surprisingly came in higher-than-expected.

Helping to underpin the markets was the Fed news from late Wednesday. Many investors were relieved that the Federal Reserve signaled no imminent plans for dialing back asset purchases.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also noted that while the economy has come a long way since the COVID-19 recession, it still has a ways to go before the central bank considers adjusting its easy-money policies.

Near-Term Outlook

The bearish divergence between the NASDAQ and the other major indexes could be an early sign that a major top is forming. If the tech-heavy NASDAQ trades sharply lower, it will drag the technology sector of the S&P 500 with it. The Dow is not likely to feel as much pain since it is tech unweighted.

The U.S. stock markets could be facing several near-term headwinds including summer vacation until after the U.S. Labor Day holiday. This would lead to low volume trading sessions. Overvaluation is another concern as well as the coronavirus outbreak.

One major concern is that investors won’t have a clue as to what the Fed is planning to do about tapering until it meets on September 21-22.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
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