The U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open Monday as investor sentiment was weighed down by concerns over the negative economic impact from the U.S. spending cuts that came into effect Mar. 1 and China's decision to tighten grip on its property sector.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.39 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.41 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.51 percent.
The automatic spending cuts or sequester, slash $85 billion in spending from the defense and domestic budgets in the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year. President Barack Obama has signed an order to implement the spending cuts after a meeting with the congressional leaders at the White House failed to find an alternative.
“U.S. automatic spending cuts came into effect Friday, as expected, and had a rather muted reaction on the market. It seems that the US politicians are still working to avert the cuts but there hasn't been any clear progress over the weekend,” a note from Credit Agricole said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government over the weekend introduced fresh measures to cool the property market, including higher down payments and interest rates for second-home buyers in cities that are seeing an unprecedented price rise. Recent official reports showed that China’s manufacturing and services sectors expanded in February but at a slower rate than in the previous month and also came in below expectations, suggesting that the recovery in the world's second-largest economy is moderating.
Market participants’ main focus this week will be on the latest employment report, which is due to be released Friday. The report is expected to show that the world’s largest economy added 180,000 jobs last month, following a 157,000-gain in January while the unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 7.8 percent.
On Friday, the U.S. stock markets ended with gains as better-than-expected economic data offset budget concerns. Data released by the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) showed that factory activity in the world’s largest economy expanded in February for the third consecutive month. The manufacturing index surged to a reading of 54.2 in February, the highest reading since June 2011, from 53.1 in January and also topped analysts’ forecast of 52.5.
European stock markets were trading lower with Germany's DAX30 down 0.54 percent, France's CAC 40 declining 0.20 percent and London's FTSE 100 losing 0.49 percent.
Asian stock markets plunged Monday as sentiment was dampened after Beijing tightened measures to control rising property prices. The Chinese Shanghai Composite tumbled 3.65 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng plunged 1.50 percent, while the Japanese Nikkei gained 0.40 percent and India’s BSE Sensex slipped 0.43 percent.