Tuesday March 29th


Futures lower as oil slides; Yellen speech in focus

U.S. stock index futures indicated a lower open on Tuesday as a decline in oil prices weighed. Investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that could give further indications as to the timing of the next interest rate hike. U.S. crude oil futures traded about 2 percent lower near $38.70 a barrel as of 8:10 a.m. ET. The U.S. dollar index traded flat, while Treasury yields were lower, with the 2-year yield at 0.86 percent. Yellen is set to deliver a speech on the "Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy" at the Economic Club of New York starting at 12:20 p.m. ET, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Investors will be combing through the Fed chair's comments for any details that could shed light on the timing of the Fed's next interest rate hike. Central bank-watchers will also keep an eye on Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan who is set to deliver speeches in Austin, Texas at both the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the McCombs School of Business at 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET, respectively. John Williams, President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, told CNBC on Monday that the U.S. economy was doing "quite well," pointing to stable inflation and strong employment growth. "The real issue is the global financial and economic developments, there's uncertainty about what's happening around the world and how that feeds back to the dollar and the U.S. economy," he told 'Asia Squawk Box.' On the data front, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for January will be released at 9 a.m. ET while March consumer confidence figures are set to be released at 10 a.m. ET. U.S. stocks closed mixed Monday in low volume trade as investors eyed oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 closed mildly higher while the Nasdaq composite ended lower. The major averages steadied after a knee-jerk reaction to afternoon reports of gunshots in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. One person was in custody and injuries were limited. The situation returned to normal relatively quickly. On Tuesday morning, European shares traded higher as markets reopened after the Easter break. The Japanese Nikkei 225 ended down 30.84 points, or 0.18 percent, at 17,103.53, while the Topix was off by 4.25 points, or 0.31 percent, at 1,377.60. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi advanced by 12.37 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,994.91. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index reversed losses to close up 20.69 points, or 0.1 percent, at 20,366.30. Chinese markets ended lower, with the Shanghai composite off by 37.27 points, or 1.26 percent, at 2,920.54, while the Shenzhen composite fell 34.14 points, or 1.82 percent, to 1,840.50. Gold eased on Tuesday, extending losses after its biggest weekly drop since early November, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen which will be watched for clues on U.S. monetary policy. Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,219.21 an ounce, after touching a one-month low on Monday at $1,208.15 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 80 cents an ounce at $1,219.30.