MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Set To Fight For Direction, But Flirts With Biggest Two-week Drop In Nearly A Year

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Investors absorb Trump issues, attacks in Spain

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U.S. stock futures struggled for direction Friday, with investors staying cautious after the prior day's selloff that was fueled in part by a terrorist attack in Barcelona and rumors that a economic adviser to President Donald Trump might resign.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 points, or 0.1%, to 21,721, while those for the S&P 500 index fell 1 point, or 0.04%, to 2,428.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index was flat at 5,800.25.

The subtle moves come after aggressive selling on Thursday, when the S&P 500 index slumped 1.5% for its biggest one-day percentage drop in three months. The Dow average and Nasdaq Composite Index ended down 1.2% and 1.9%, respectively.

As of Thursday's close, the benchmarks are now on track for weekly losses around 0.5%. The Dow is on track for its largest two-week percentage decline since mid-September last year, while the Nasdaq is flirting with its longest weekly losing streak since May 2016, as it has fallen for four weeks in a row.

"In a week where we started by worrying about nuclear war, markets have quickly moved on from this, with yesterday's weak session more of a response to fears that Mr. Trump's strategy for the economy and business is falling apart," strategists at Deutsche Bank said in a note. And later in the session, the "terrible terrorist attack" in Barcelona, Spain, weighed on markets, the strategists added.

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At about 5 p.m. Thursday local time, or 11 a.m. Eastern Time, a van plowed into crowds in one of Barcelona's busiest spots, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. Islamic State has claimed responsibility (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/islamic-state-takes-credit-for-deadly-barcelona-attack-on-pedestrians-2017-08-17) for the terror attack. Hours after the Barcelona incident, police killed five alleged terrorists following a separate attack that hurt seven people in Cambrils, a Spanish town southwest of Barcelona.

European stocks were sharply lower on Friday following the attacks. Spain's IBEX 35 index was among the hardest hit, down 1% at 10,342.20.

Also spooking investors were reports on Thursday that Gary Cohn was planning to resign as an economic adviser to the president. The White House has countered those rumors.

See:Team Trump losing Gary Cohn could crash the stock market, warns Yale professor (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/team-trump-losing-gary-cohn-could-crash-the-stock-market-warns-yale-professor-2017-08-17)

Cohn is "seen as the glue holding Trump's pro-business agenda together," Deutsche Bank's strategists said. "The fears are that if he goes, you take a further step back from tax cuts and deregulation."

The dollar was knocked lower on the Cohn speculation and continued lower on Friday. The ICE Dollar Index was down 0.1% at 93.57.

Stock movers: Shares in Ross Stores Inc.(ROST) rallied 11% in thin premarket trade after the off-price retailer late Thursday reported earnings and sales above forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ross-stores-shares-rally-as-q2-earnings-top-views-company-forecasts-sales-growth-2017-08-17).

Investors also cheered earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/applied-materials-stock-jumps-on-third-quarter-earnings-and-sales-beat-2017-08-17) from Applied Materials Inc.(AMAT) out late Thursday, sending the chip equipment supplier's shares up 5% ahead of Friday's opening bell.

Calpine Corp.(CPN) soared 11% in premarket trade after a Wall Street Journal report late Thursday said Energy Capital Partners is closing in on a $17 billion deal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-capital-partners-nears-17-billion-deal-to-buy-calpine-report-2017-08-17) to acquire the power company.

U.S.-listed shares of Infosys Ltd.(500209.BY) slid 10% ahead of the bell after Vishal Sikka on Friday resigned as chief executive (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/infosys-ceo-resigns-citing-resistance-to-change-2017-08-18).

On the earnings front Friday, Foot Locker Inc.(FL) , Deere & Co.(DE) and Estée Lauder Cos.(EL) are all slated to report ahead of the bell.

Economic news: A consumer sentiment reading for August is due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

On the Federal Reserve front, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is due to speak at a community college event in Dallas at 10:15 a.m. Eastern.

Other markets:Asia markets closed broadly lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-slumps-to-3-month-low-as-asian-markets-dip-2017-08-17), with Japan's Nikkei 225 index finishing at a three-month low.

Oil prices continued higher on Friday, rising 0.4% to $47.27 a barrel. Metals were higher across the board, with gold up 0.6% at $1,299.50 an ounce on increased haven demand.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 18, 2017 05:09 ET (09:09 GMT)