By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
J.C. Penney is expected to report earnings ahead of the bell
Wall Street looks on track for a downbeat end to the week, with U.S. stock futures on Friday pointing to a deepening of the prior day's losses. Investors were still concerned that a possible delay in much-anticipated corporate tax cuts could mark an end to the recent stock rally.
Traders also followed President Donald Trump's visit to Asia, where the U.S. leader delivered a strong message on trade, defending economic nationalism and saying the U.S. won't enter into multilateral deals that "tie our hands."
What are stock futures doing?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 72 points, or 0.3%, to 23,344, while those for the S&P 500 index lost 11.65 points, or 0.5%, to 2,572.25. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 Index gave up 27.75 points, or 0.4%, to 6,286.50.
The losses come after all three major benchmarks suffered their worst session in two weeks on Thursday . The Dow average broke a seven-day winning run by posting a loss of 0.4%. The S&P 500 closed 0.4% lower, while the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.6%.
As of Thursday's close, the benchmarks were set for weekly losses of between 0.1% and 0.3%, following a week marred by uncertainty over the Republicans' proposed tax reform plan.
What's driving the markets?
The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday released its version of the draft tax bill , which was quite different from the House Republicans' plan. One of the key divergences was a proposal to defer implementing a cut in corporate tax to a 20% rate until 2019, rather than next year as out forward in the House plan.
The two versions of the tax overhaul will be further debated and negotiated before the final vote, and investors are losing faith that the bill will be passed this side of Thanksgiving or even before Christmas.
The prospect of a major tax overhaul has been one of the factors propping up the U.S. stock market recently, on expectations tax cuts would support companies and help boost the economy.
Also on investors' minds was Trump's Asian tour. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, the president declared he won't "let the United States be taken advantage of anymore" when it comes to trade, seemingly delivering a sharp rebuke to China.
He said he U.S. would defend its commercial rights and wouldn't enter into multilateral trade agreements that "tie our hands."
Reports said the U.S. president could meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin while in Vietnam. The White House said Friday the two leaders don't have a separate, formal meeting planned due to "scheduling conflicts" but that they might bump into each other and say hello.
What are strategists saying?
"The substantial divergences in the U.S. House and Senate Tax reform bill proposals are clearly weighing on sentiment in 'risk markets', though there may well be an element of investors taking 'money off the table' as they look to year end," said Marc Ostwald, strategist at ADM Investor Services International, in a note.
"Senators remain wary that drastic changes still need to be made in order to adhere to their more stricter fiscal rules, such that the tax bill can be voted through with a simple majority. With the Congress week-long Thanksgiving recess starting next Friday, the odds of a GOP tax plan landing on President Trump's desk this side of Christmas remain slim-to-none. A growing realization of this will see the dollar slide even lower," said Viraj Patel, foreign exchange strategist at ING, in a note.
Which stocks are in focus?
Shares of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (>> Hertz Global Holdings Inc) shares rallied 8.2% in thin premarket trade, after the car rental company late Thursday reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimates .
Nvidia Corp.(>> NVIDIA Corporation) shares picked up 3.1% ahead of Friday's open, after the graphic chip maker's quarterly results out late Thursday topped Wall Street estimates.
Walt Disney Co.(>> Walt Disney Company (The)) shares could also move, after the media giant reported an earnings and revenue miss late Thursday. Disney also said it's making a new "Star Wars" trilogy as well as developing a live-action "Star Wars" television series.
Shares of Altice USA Inc.(>> Altice USA Inc) jumped 15% premarket. The company's chief executive, Dexter Goei, will assume the CEO role at parent Altice NV (>> Altice) amid a major management reshuffle. Altice NV shares were down 3.4% in Amsterdam.
What's new in economic data?
The consumer sentiment index for November is due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, capping off a week light on top-tier data.
What are other markets doing?
Crude oil prices rose 0.2% to $57.27 a barrel, on track for a 2.9% weekly gain. Such a rise would extend oil's winning run into a fifth straight week, which would be the longest winning streak since October last year.
The ICE Dollar Index was marginally lower at 94.418 and set for a 0.5% loss for the week, its first in four weeks.
Gold was down 0.2% at $1,284.70 an ounce, but on pace for its first weekly win in four weeks.
Asian stock markets closed mostly lower , while major European indexes were lower across the board.