Contracts on the Dow were down more than 100 points, following third consecutive day of losses for the index
Stock futures opened lower Tuesday evening after another volatile day on Wall Street, with investors continuing to digest still-elevated coronavirus case counts in the U.S. and Europe, weighing outcomes of Election Day next week and contemplating when another round of fiscal stimulus out of Washington might get passed.
Contracts on the Dow opened lower by more than 100 points, after the index logged a third straight day of losses earlier in the day after shares of components Caterpillar and 3M fell after reporting earnings. While each of the companies posted quarterly sales and profit that topped estimates, both declined to offer a full outlook for the rest of the year, signalling ongoing uncertainty for the corporate bellwethers as a result of the pandemic.
Big Tech shares mostly extended advances in late trading, after a rise in technology stocks earlier in the day tipped the Nasdaq to close in positive territory. Microsoft shares were flat to slightly lower in late trading, however, even after the company reported quarterly revenue that grew a better-than-expected 12% as its Azure cloud offering accelerated sales growth from the previous period.
Wednesday morning, companies including Boeing, General Electric and MasterCard will report results before market open, and firms including Ford, Etsy, Pinterest and Gilead Sciences will report after market close. As of Tuesday morning, companies comprising about 32% of the S&P 500’s market capitalization had reported third-quarter results, with earnings topping estimates by 16.1% in aggregate so far, according to an analysis by Credit Suisse. Still, the bar to clear was relatively low, with analysts heading into third-quarter earnings season looking for an aggregate drop in S&P 500 earnings per share (EPS) of about 20% over last year.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is set to hold a hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai to discuss Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has to date helped protect online platforms from liability over user-created content.
Based on pre-published prepared remarks, the three tech executives are set to offer a vocal defence of these legal protections during the hearing, with Dorsey calling it “the Internet’s most important law for free speech and safety” in his prepared remarks. Zuckerberg is set to maintain that Section 230 “encourages free expression” and “allows platforms to moderate content,” according to a copy of his opening statement. However, Zuckerberg also noted he was open to Congress updating “the law to make sure it’s working as intended.”
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