US stock futures tick higher as second quarter kicks off

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US stock-index futures drifted higher on Monday after a strong quarter for equities markets as investors braced for a busy week on the economic and political fronts.

More than two hours ahead of the opening bell in New York, S&P 500 futures ticked up by a fraction of a point to 2,359.8, Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 0.06 per cent to 20,616 and Nasdaq 100 futures advance by 0.9 per cent 5,443.5.

Wall Street’s docket is quite full this week. A closely watched report on the US factory sector is due at 10am ET on Monday, and the important monthly jobs report is slated for release on Friday. Several senior Federal Reserve officials are also set to give remarks.

The latest round of economic news comes as traders face an uncertain outlook on how the US economy performed in the first quarter. Some models suggest the annualised pace of growth could come in around 1 per cent, while others suggest the world’s biggest economy may have grown at a nearly 3 per cent pace in the first three months of this year.

Politics will also remain in-focus, after Donald Trump reiterated this weekend in an interview with the Financial Times that he plans to push a “very massive and very strong tax reform” plan through Congress. The US president is set to meet Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, at the end of this week.

US equities posted a strong first quarter, propelled higher by strength in technology stocks. The broad S&P 500 gained more than 5 per cent in its best quarter since the end of 2015, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq logged its biggest gain since 2013. However, jitters rose in March after Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare fizzled in the House of Representatives.

In currencies, the US dollar rose by 0.3 per cent against a basket of half-a-dozen peers. The UK pound was among the worst-performing developed-market currencies, sliding by 0.3 per cent against the buck to $1.25.

US crude oil was steady at $50.63 a barrel.

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