U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady open on Monday, as investors eyed another round of earnings reports this week, while expectations that the Federal Reserve will not rise interest rates for some time weighed.
Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.02% dip, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.01% downtick, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.05% loss.
U.S. equities remained under pressure after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting indicated that an interest rate increase is unlikely to be warranted for some time.
The Fed’s March meeting minutes, released on Wednesday, showed that policymakers discussed whether to keep interest rates at record lows until inflation moves higher, and did not elaborate on a possible timeframe for when rates could start to rise.
Markets were also jittery after Ukraine said it plans to launch a 'full-scale anti-terrorist operation' involving the army against the rebels. The comments came after a group of separatists took control of the Ukrainian city of Slaviansk on Saturday.
In response, the United Nations Security Council kicked off an emergency meeting early on Monday to discuss the crisis.
Financial stocks were expected to remain in focus after JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), up 0.49% in pre-market trade, reported first-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates. Citigroup (NYSE:C), down 0.18%, was expected to report quarterly results later Monday.
Separately, Citigroup reportedly cut 200 to 300 jobs in its division handling stock and bond trades to reduce costs.
The tech sector was also likely to be active, as websites affected by the Heartbleed security flaw had still not recovered from the fallout. Networking equipment companies Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) were expected to maintain Friday's downtrend as millions of smartphones and tablets running Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Android operating system were afflicted by Heartbleed.
Some BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) software, including its BBM messaging service for iOS and Android, was also affected and the company was still working on fixes on Friday.
Elsewhere, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares dropped 0.39% in early trading, after the Financial Times reported that the social media giant is preparing itself to provide financial services in the form of remittances and electronic money.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply lower. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 tumbled 0.93%, France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.94%, Germany's DAX lost 0.94%, while Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.76%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.15%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 0.36%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to produce data on retail sales.