US stocks: four things to mull before New York opens

Investors are digesting the contents of Barack Obama's State of the Union address yesterday ahead of the opening of the US stockmarket.


President Obama gave his penultimate State of the Union address yesterday

US stocks are poised for a weaker kick-off this afternoon. Late morning futures were suggesting the Dow would fall by around 90 points to 17,372, with the S&P 500 roughly eight points lower to 2,009.

Here are some things to note before the opening bell.

Investors eye European Central Bank stimulus tomorrow:Investors are continuing to price in some form of quantitative easing (QE) being announced by the European Central Bank (ECB) tomorrow. Government bond prices have been rising on the back of the expected extra demand from the central bank.

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Gold back in favour on uncertain global economic outlook:Gold prices are on the up the metal has risen 10% since the start of the year as investors buy into its safe haven status amid uncertainty about the outlook for the world economy. Yesterday it topped $1,300 per oz for the first time since last August. Late morning it stood at $1,288.75 per oz.

Investors also believe that a QE programme from the ECB tomorrow could lead to further falls for the euro, which hit an 11-year low against the US dollar on Friday, further enhancing gold's appeal as a currency hedge.

Microsoft counts on Windows 10 after Windows 8 flop:Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) will be in sharp focus as it is expected to unveil its new operating system, Windows 10, the follow up to its sorely disappointing Windows 8 offering. It will be its first operating system update under Satya Nadella, who was appointed chief executive last February.

Some analysts think Microsoft may make Windows 10 available for free as it looks to win back customers from Apple and Google.

Obama hails end of crisis':In his penultimate State of the Union address to Congress yesterday, US president Barack Obama hailed an end to the financial crisis and outlined his strategy for "middle-class economics". Key proposals in the address include:

Tax hikes: Raising the capital gains rate on couples with incomes above $500,000 to 28% and eliminate a tax break on inheritances.

Fee on firms: He also proposed a new fee on around 100 financial firms with assets exceeding $50bn. The administration estimates these changes would generate $320bn over a decade.

Tax breaks: Create a $500 tax credit for families with an annual income up to $210,000. Expand the childcare credit to up to $3,000 per child under the age of five. Offer the Earned Income Tax Credit to childless workers and noncustodial parents.

Cuba: Obama wants Congress to lift the economic embargo on Cuba.

Cyber security: Calling for legislation enabling information-sharing between the private sector and US agencies such as the Homeland Security Department.

Kam Patel

Kam is a former deputy editor at Hemscott Invest and online editor, City A.M and he was also previously the Digital Editor at IFA Magazine. Kam is currently a senior journalist at The Global Treasurer and contributes to MoneyWeek. Kam shares expertise on the FTSE 100, investing and global stocks.