Before the bell: What you need to know before the US market open

 
Billy Bambrough
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Rallies In Manila Over The South China Sea Dispute
China's claim to the South China Sea has taken a massive hit today (Source: Getty)

Major US markets are on a tear hitting record highs and the UK blue-chip index is in bull market territory.

Here's what you need to know before the US market open at 2:30pm London time.

It seems nothing can stop the equity ball rolling now, with futures pointing yet higher ahead of the open. The S&P is up by 0.49 per cent, while the Nasdaq is 0.56 per cent higher. The Dow is up by 0.44 per cent. The US 10-year yield is higher by five basis points at 1.48 per cent.

The gains are tracking the UK FTSE 100 performance that yesterday entered a bull market, rebounding from a bear market at the start of the year.

The FTSE has slowed today after reaching an 11-month high yesterday, adding 0.1 per cent so far in today's session. Elsewhere in Europe the German Dax is 1.4 per cent higher at 9,974.95.

The strong performance in Europe follows a good trading session in Asia that left the Nikkei up by 2.46 per cent and the Hang Seng up by 1.65 per cent.

The S&P 500 has hit an all time high...

A rise of 0.3 per cent yesterday propelled the S&P 500 to its best close on record with tech, industrials, and material stocks leading gains.

The index finished Monday's session at 2,137.16, edging out its previous intraday record of 2,134.72 and it looks like it will be pushed further in to unchartered territory at the open this morning.

Where there's a will Theresa May...

Markets across Europe have been cheering the certainty following the UK's home secretary Theresa May being named as the new leader of the Conservative Party. She's already begun the process of moving into 10 Downing Street.

Read More: MPs call on May to name cabinet before next week's Summer recess

The pound climbed by 1.3 per cent at to $1.3163, breaking back through the psychological $1.30 mark.

Big trouble in the South China Sea...

A United Nations tribunal has ruled overwhelmingly in favour of the Philippines in its case over Chinese claims to maritime rights in South China Sea.

China ramped up its rhetoric ahead of the decision, with president Xi Jinping warning earlier this month that Beijing is "not afraid of trouble".

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague rejected China's claim to historical rights resources in a large part of the area.

It had been based on a 'nine-dash line' found in 1940s maps, but this overlapped with other states' rights specified in more recent international law.

Stocks to watch

It's the second annual Amazon Prime Day and investors are closely watching whether online retailing behemoth Amazon will hit its sales targets on its 100,000 deals on offer.

Last year the first summer sales day shifted a record number of products and Amazon's share price hit a record high yesterday in the run up to the much-hyped day.

Read more: Amazon will plough ahead with UK data centres plan despite Brexit

Aluminum giant Alcoa kicked off earnings season last night, posting earnings of adjusted $0.15 a share, topping the Bloomberg consensus of $0.09.

Revenue fell 10.2 per cent to $5.30bn, but managed to sail past Wall Street expectations of $5.27bn.

Chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld said:

In the face of a transforming aerospace market, we moved quickly to bring our costs down while capturing new opportunities.

Data-storage company Seagate is cutting 14 per cent of its workforce – around 6,500 employees – by the end of fiscal year 2017.

The layoffs will result in pretax charges of about $164m but Seagate has upped its revenue forecast to $2.65bn for the fourth quarter, sending shares 11 per cent higher following the closing bell.

Companies reporting

Earnings season is still gearing up, with financials coming thick and fast by the end of the week. Today is pretty dry however, although industrial supplier Fastenal will release its quarterly results ahead of the opening bell.

Economic news

US Federal Reserve officials Daniel Tarullo and James Bullard are set to make speeches today and will be closely watched for clues as to Fed thinking on interest rates.

Elsewhere, the latest JOLTS Job Openings will be released at 3pm London time.

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