U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street Monday as investors grew increasingly concerned over the economic impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit JapanFriday.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei closed down more than 6 percentMonday amid fears over the cost to the country’s economy and oil tumbled on expectations economic growth will slow after the earthquake.
Oil prices, which have been dictating trading direction of stocks of late, had already inched lower last week when planned protests in Saudi Arabia failed to materialize. Developments in the Middle Eastwill remain in the spotlight this week.
Japan's strongest earthquake on record shut refineries and industrial plants in the world's third-largest oil consumer. Infrastructure damage may curb demand in the near term, while reconstruction may boost use further down the line.
Shares of Toyota , which said it would suspend production at all its car plants until at least March 16, dropped 8 percent. General Electric , which has nuclear ventures with Hitachi Ltd of Japan, fell more than 2 percent. The iShares MSCI Japan index exchange traded fund plunged nearly 9 percent.
Insurers and some large energy providers were hit in Europe, while construction and refinery shares rose in emerging markets as investors expected a boost from large-scale reconstruction efforts.