A more hawkish Fed, an Argentine default and Russian sanctions are taking their toll on investor confidence today, US markets closed mixed yesterday but look to open markedly lower today ahead more important earnings reports. Futures suggest the Dow Jones will open 100 points lower at 16,780 with the S&P500 expected to open 14 points lower at 1,956 and the Nasdaq 31 points lower at 3,945. The FOMC’s comments were deliberately confused; they acknowledged inflation while keeping the “considerable time” language in reference to the first rate hike but Philly Fed president Plosser dissented. Yellen’s aim in this Fed statement appeared to be to remain dovish while demonstrating a gradual hawkish shift. Markets didn’t really buy the Fed’s attempt at dovishness, with 4% GDP growth, inflation at the target 2% and a strengthening labour market the numbers tell a different story, i.e. an earlier rate hike, probably early 2015 not mid-late. After growth and inflation, Friday’s NFP will be the third point in the rate hike ‘triangle’, another 200k+ report and unemployment below 6% means the Fed really have no excuses not to tighten. Argentina has defaulted for the second time in just over a decade. While terrible news for the Argentine people, it’s likely a non-event in the long term for markets but the Argentina default is just another thorn in the side of confidence today. The Nasdaq outperformed other indices yesterday as the tech sector surged ahead on good news from Twitter. Biotech firm Amgen have added to a wave of good news from that “stretched” sector which should again see the Nasdaq do well. The Dow’s performance today likely depends on the earnings from the world’s second biggest company by market cap, Exxon Mobil. Shell and BP have reported stellar profit growth in the second quarter; if Exxon follows suit it may come down to whether the company references Russian sanctions as a potential headwind for the second half of the year. Earnings are also expected from MasterCard, DirecTV, Time Warner and Kellogg’s before the open with Expedia and Western Union after the close. CMC Markets is an execution only provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.