U.S. Stocks Open Slightly Lower, Crude Stock Report To Be In Focus

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U.S. stocks ticked down marginally during the early trading hours, indicating a wary opening. The lack of direction signal that markets have digested the developments around the terror attacks that caused mayhem in Belgium yesterday.

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Long weekend effect

The S&P 500 is currently trading down 0.25% to 2,045 while the Nasdaq is down further at 0.5% 4,795. It appears the gains will be capped in the market as traders could shy away from placing big bets ahead of the Good Friday holiday.

Meanwhile, the uptick in business sentiment across the globe helped European markets recover from yesterday’s fall, but the direction of Asian equities was mostly bearish. The pound sterling took a bad beating today as the Brussels attacks led to speculations of higher chances of Brexit.

Oil prices under pressure

At the same time, the volatile trading in oil continued to perplex markets, which are looking forward to official data from the U.S. Department of Energy to be released later today. A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute (API) had reported that the U.S. crude stockpiles have increased by 8.8 million barrels, which added to the oversupply concerns. The number came widely higher than the projections of an addition of 2.7 million barrels.

Apart from this, the market welcomed comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday, who rekindled hopes of early and more interest rate hikes this year. Both Philadelphia Fed President, Patrick Harker, and Chicago Fed President, Charles Evans, reiterated that more rate hikes are possible if the economy continues to improve at current or higher rates.

On the economic data front, single-family homes sales for February reading is due to release today. According to estimates, sales could rise 3.2% in February, confirming a recovery trend in the housing market. Separate data show that the number of mortgage applications in the U.S. has dipped over the last week. The mortgage market index dropped 3.3% to 465.2 from 481.3 during the week ending March 18.

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