Stocks headed for a narrowly mixed open today as oil prices set a new trading record and investors awaited a regional manufacturing reading for hints about where the market might be headed after last week’s steep sell-off.
Light, sweet crude traded above $143 per barrel for the first time early Monday before pulling back and changing hands up $2.08 at $142.29 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Rising prices have weighed on stock markets worldwide because of worries that inflation will force consumers and businesses to pare spending and hurt economic activity. In the U.S., consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity so a sharp pullback would prove particularly damaging to the economy.
Inflation concerns helped send the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 4 percent last week. Investors are nervous about how prolonged the selling might be. The Dow and the other major indexes are close to the 20 percent pullback from the highs seen in October needed to officially put stocks in bear market territory.
Any signals about the economy are welcome for nervous traders. The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ report on Midwestern manufacturing, which is due shortly after the opening bell, could give investors a sense of how inflation and other economic worries might be affecting economic activity.
Monday is the last day of the second quarter, and institutional investors could be looking to make any changes that will put the best light on battered portfolios.
Dow futures fell 19, or 0.17 percent, to 11,338. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 1.40, or 0.11 percent, to 1,281.40, and Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 5.75, or 0.31 percent, to 1,860.00.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which tends to move opposite its price, rose to 3.99 from 3.97 percent late Friday.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.46 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.67 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.97 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 0.29 percent.