The latest round of U.S. corporate financial reports ramps up this week and investors have low expectations. Wall Street is forecasting a 2.6% drop in profit for S&P 500 companies. It is set to be the first back-to-back quarterly decline in three years.
Netflix and Bank of America will be the most-watched results Wednesday, after a rough day for the technology and banking sectors on Tuesday. In Europe, France's CAC 40 drifted 0.1% lower to 5,610, as did Germany's DAX, falling to 12,419. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped about 0.2% to 7,564.
U.S. shares were set for a sluggish open, with Dow futures up less than 0.1% at 27,338. S&P 500 futures were also headed for a flat to slightly higher open at 3,008. Shares in Asia were mostly lower after U.S. President Donald Trump told a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that he was still waiting to see if China would buy more farm products as part of talks on trade.
"We have a long way to go on tariffs with China," Trump said. "We have another $325 billion that we can put a tariff on if we want," he said. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping recently agreed to hold off on further tariffs to allow negotiators to resume talks on the dispute over China's massive trade surplus and its policies aimed at developing advanced technologies in an array of industries.
Trump began ramping up tariffs on Chinese products a year ago and Beijing responded with punitive tariffs of its own. Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier that he expects more talks with his Chinese counterparts this week. Prospects for progress are uncertain, however, since the main issues blocking agreement have not been resolved.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.3% to finish at 21,469.18. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 6,673.30. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.9% to 2,072.92. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped nearly 0.1% to 28,593.17, while the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.2% to 2,931.69.
Also highly anticipated is the Federal Reserve meeting at the end of the month. Wall Street expects the central bank to raise interest rates to help secure U.S. economic growth threatened by a trade war with China.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 35 cents to $57.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.96 to $57.62 per barrel Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 57 cents to $64.92 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar inched up to 108.27 Japanese yen from 108.24 late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1219 from $1.1211.