U.S. stock futures were under pressure Monday as oil prices spiked after Saturday's coordinated drone strikes on a key Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq and the nearby Khurais oil field. Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other U.S. energy stocks were getting a boost. Exxon and Chevron, both among the 30 Dow components, were set to help limit losses on the Dow Jones industrial Average at the open on Wall Street.
Investors were buying up bonds as a perceived safety trade, sending yields inversely lower. However, the 10-year Treasury yield was still above 1.8% early Monday, much higher than the near 1.4% multiyear lows earlier this month. The attacks in Saudi Arabia are dominating the start of the new week, but the Federal Reserve's September meeting Tuesday and Wednesday will certainly become front and center. Policymakers are expected to cut interest rates for the second time this year.
The weekend attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure came as a resilient stock market already faced a test of how long it could remain in an uncommon sweet spot. This sweet spot, as CNBC's Mike Santoli points out, started in the bitterness of an August market when investors were given a taste of recession worries crystallized by a relentless drop in Treasury-bond yields. In the past few weeks, though, the S&P 500 has waged a steep 6% rally, pulling within 1% of its late-July record high by Friday's close, driven by the furious reversal of an overdone "fear trade" in August. If the Dow were to finish higher Monday, which looked unlikely in futures trading, it would post its first nine-session winning streak in two years.
President Donald Trump said the United States is "locked and loaded" after the attack on Saudi Arabia, but the Trump administration is waiting for Riyadh to determine who launched the strikes before taking action. "There is reason to believe that we know the culprit," Trump tweeted. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, but the U.S. has pointed the finger at Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of launching an "unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply." Trump authorized the release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep the market well supplied.
It may take Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's national oil company, months to resume normal crude production after the weekend attacks, according to a Reuters report. The strikes forced a Saudi output cut of 5.7 million barrels per day or about 50%. That's equivalent to about 5% of the global oil supply. The attack comes as Saudi Arabia moves forward to take Aramco public in a major shakeup of the kingdom's energy sector. Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said Saturday nobody was hurt in the attacks and work was underway to restore production. Aramco has 35-40 days of supply to meet contractual obligations, a source close to the matter told CNBC. This weekend's strikes are the biggest attack on Saudi oil infrastructure since 1990, when the Iraqi military fired scud missiles into the kingdom.
Shares of General Motors were falling about 2% in premarket trading, with about 48,000 union workers at GM on strike and contract talks set to resume at 10 a.m. ET. The United Auto Workers members walked out early Monday after negotiations broke down. GM said it had presented a "strong offer" to the union, including the addition or retention of thousands of jobs and more than $7 billion in new investments over four years. The strike, depending on its length, could easily cost the automaker hundreds of millions of dollars. The last time the union declared a strike at GM was in 2007. The two-day work stoppage was estimated to have cost GM more than $300 million per day.