Wall Street’s main indexes were set for a lower open on Monday as a deepening conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas roiled global markets and pushed investors toward safe-haven assets, while crude prices jumped around 4%.
Fighters were still holed up in several locations inside Israel two days after they burst across from Gaza killing 700 Israelis and seized hostages, while the country responded with its heaviest ever bombardment of the Gaza Strip, killing about 500 people.
Israel said it had called up an unprecedented 300,000 reservists and warned residents of parts of the Gaza Strip to leave, in the latest signs it could be planning a ground assault.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States will send multiple military ships and aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support.
At 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 168 points, or 0.5%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 27 points, or 0.62%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 115.75 points, or 0.77%.
The CBOE volatility index, Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, also rose to 19.05, reflecting investor anxiety.
Traditional safe-haven assets including gold and the U.S. dollar gained, while crude prices increased.
“We expect short-term volatility in the stock market and oil market as investors digest the heightened tensions in the Middle East,” said James Demmert, chief investment officer, Main Street Research.
Energy companies Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil and Occidental Petroleum jumped between 2.6% and 3.9% in premarket trading.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines suspended direct flights to Tel Aviv. The airlines’ shares were down more than 2% each.
Defense companies Northrop Grumman, RTX, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin advanced between 3.2% and 3.9%.
Major technology stocks Apple, Meta Platforms, Alphabet, Nvidia and Amazon.com fell 0.5% to 2.1%.
The U.S. bond market was shut on Monday for Columbus Day.
The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains on Friday as mixed jobs reports kept investors on edge around the Federal Reserve’s interest rate outlook.
For the week, key inflation readings including September’s producer price and consumer price indexes, as well as the Fed’s September meeting minutes will be in focus.
Later on Monday, investors will keep an eye on speeches by Fed Vice Chair Philip Jefferson and Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr.
Focus will also be on the upcoming quarterly earnings from major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup as well as asset manager BlackRock.
Tesla shed 1.6% as data showed the company’s China-made EV sales volume for September decreased 10.9% from a year ago.
Disney gained 1.5% on a report Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has increased its stake in the media giant, with the activist investor expected to request multiple board seats, including for himself.