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Morning Market Roundup: More Fed Stimulus? U.S. Futures & Spending Down


Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:

Fed Stimulus? World stock markets were modestly higher Monday as sluggish U.S. growth boosted hopes for more measures from the Federal Reserve to help the world's No. 1 economy.

The Fed has already carried out two massive rounds of bond-buying known as quantitative easing to drive down long-term interest rates and stimulate spending and business investment. Low bond yields also encourage investors to shift money to stocks.

European stocks were mostly higher in early trading.

U.S. stocks were headed for a neutral opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures nearly unchanged at 13,168. S&P 500 futures were flat at 1,398.

Asian stocks were higher in trading thinned by holidays in Japan and mainland China. All major Asian markets except Tokyo will be closed for holidays on Tuesday.

U.S. Futures: U.S. stock market futures are sliding ahead of March consumer spending data.

Dow Jones industrial average futures are Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 0.17 percent at 13,141. Standard & Poor's 500 futures are down 0.25 percent at 1,395. Nasdaq 100 futures are off 0.37 percent at 2,726.

The Commerce Department is expected to report that spending rose faster than incomes. Recent economic reports are generating concern that the recovery is slowing down.

Europe isn't helping. Markets there are mainly down, weighed by growing concerns over Spain. Data confirmed Spain slipped back into recession in the first quarter.

U.S. Spending: Americans increased their spending more slowly in March, raising questions that consumers could be worried about the economy.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending increased just 0.3 percent in March after a 0.9 percent gain in February. Income grew 0.4 percent following a 0.3 percent gain in February.

Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic growth. It rose at the fastest pace in more than a year in the January-March quarter. But consumers could be cutting back because of weak income gains and a slowdown in hiring.

The amount of income left after paying taxes was up just 0.2 percent in March, after adjusting for inflation. The tiny increase followed two months of declines.

Sunoco Buyout: Natural gas company Energy Transfer Partners is buying Sunoco in a deal valued at about $5.3 billion.

The acquisition would expand the footprint of the Dallas company in the Northeast, and also diversify its holdings in a shift toward more crude and other heavy hydrocarbons. Natural gas companies have been hammered by plunging prices, which have recently hit 10-year lows.

"This transaction, which will be immediately accretive, represents the next step in Energy Transfer Partners' transformation into a more diversified enterprise with an integrated and expanded footprint," said Chairman and CEO Kelcy Warren.

"As we have said in the past year, our goal is to derive more of our distributable cash flow from the transportation of heavier hydrocarbons like crude oil, NGLs, and refined products. With this transaction, we make a major move in that direction."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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