U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open Wednesday, as a “calm before the storm” mood set in a day ahead of the risk events that have preoccupied investors since the start of the week.
Investors are seen as focused on the so-called “Super Thursday” trio of geopolitical events: testimony on alleged Russian interference from former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, the U.K. general election and a European Central Bank meeting.
Stocks fell for a second session on Tuesday as investors got jittery ahead of those events. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.28% fell 0.3%, the Dow industrials DJIA, -0.23% lost 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.33% slid 0.3%.
“One wonders whether markets are experiencing the calm before the storm as we await ‘Super Thursday’. The main global equity bourses have moved less than a percent in the four days of June so far,” said Jim Reid, strategist, and Craig Nichol, research analyst, in a Deutsche Bank note.
Others said investors are definitely bracing for a potentially explosive Thursday.
“Risk assets are obviously not ideal at this stage, as any of the three major events may trigger a selloff in equity markets, which explains some investors’ behavior who have moved into the defensive,” said Hussein Sayed, FXTM chief market strategist, in a note.
The big question regarding Comey is whether the ex-FBI chief will accuse President Donald Trump of abusing his power to derail the FBI’s investigation and whether there’s any indication of potential links between Russia and the Trump election campaign, Sayed said. Any surprises in that testimony to a Senate committee will be reflected in financial markets, he said.
Geopolitics and economy: The only top-tier economic update on the calendar for Wednesday is a reading on consumer credit in April, due at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
One focus is the runup to the U.K. general election. While voters head to the polls Thursday, the outcome will likely not be known until Friday morning London time.
Opinion polls mostly indicate a victory for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, but there are signs it could be a neck -and-neck race with the opposition Labour Party. An unexpected result could trigger volatility across Europe, spilling over to U.S. markets.
No change in monetary policy is expected from the ECB meeting, but President Mario Draghi’s comments will be scrutinized for signs the central bank could be ready to wind down its ultraloose monetary policy.
Stock movers: U.S.-listed shares of Banco Santander SA SAN, -1.81% SAN, -3.05% could be active after the Spanish lender said it bought struggling Banco Popular Espanol SA POP, -6.21% in an overnight auction for 1 euro. Santander shares slipped 0.5% in Madrid.
Jack Daniels maker Brown-Forman Corp. BF.B, -0.02% is scheduled to report results ahead of the market open.
Other markets: European stocks SXXP, +0.51% were a mixed bag, with the FTSE 100 UKX, +0.12% slightly firmer, but the German DAX 30 DAX, +0.34% index moving lower. In Asia ADOW, -0.16% , Chinese stocks SHCOMP, +1.23% rose 1.2%, bucking a retreat across most other indexes..
Oil prices CLN7, -0.52% drifted south as investors waited for U.S. supply data from the Energy Information Administration. Gold prices GCQ7, -0.42% were modestly lower, and the dollar DXY, +0.41% traded largely flat.