Monday March 6th


Futures point to lower open on Wall Street; March rate hike in focus

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Monday as traders focused on fresh economic data ahead of a probable interest rate hike in the U.S. this month. Market expectations for a March rate hike have skyrocketed to 81 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, on the back of hawkish rhetoric and solid economic data. The Federal Open Market Committee meeting is scheduled for March 14-15. On the data front, Monday will see factory orders for January released for 10 a.m ET. On the earnings front, Thor Industries, Analogic, Ascena Retail and Korn/Ferry are all due to report after the market close. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index was around 0.4 percent lower on Monday morning. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite in China closed 0.5 percent higher, while the Nikkei in Japan closed 0.46 percent lower. In oil markets, prices slipped amid persistent concerns regarding Russia's compliance with a global deal to curb oversupply and lower growth targets in China. Brent crude traded at around $55.57 a barrel on Monday, down 0.59 percent, while U.S. crude was around $52.99 a barrel, down 0.68 percent. Gold steadied on Monday after falling to two-week lows in the previous session after Fed Chair Janet Yellen reinforced expectations the U.S. central bank would raise U.S. interest rates this month. Spot gold was down 0.03 percent to $1,233.90 an ounce, after Friday's slide to $1,222.51, the lowest since Feb. 15. U.S. gold futures were up 0.67 percent to $1,234.70. Yellen said last week that the Federal Reserve was set to lift.