Trouble at Ford; Merger Monday; Stocks hold steady

1. Rocky road for Ford: Ford is driving into the future without CEO Mark Fields.

Fields, a career Ford employee, was replaced Monday by Jim Hackett, who was brought in last year to run Ford’s efforts to develop self-driving vehicles.

Fields was chief executive for just under three years and shares have fallen by nearly 40% over that period. Ford shares gained ahead of the open.

2. Global market overview: Stock markets were struggling to find a direction on Monday.

U.S. stock futures were holding steady ahead of the opening bell, and European markets were muted.

Most Asian markets closed the day with gains, but China bucked the trend. The benchmark Shanghai Composite dipped 0.5% while the more volatile Shenzhen Composite shed 1.4%.

3. What to watch — Trump, oil, takeover deal: President Trump has arrived in Israel for the second leg of his first foreign trip as president. He will be making a number of joint public statements with Israeli leaders and visiting important religious sites.

Crude oil prices advanced to trade around $51 per barrel, continuing their rebound from $45.52 at the start of the month. Investors are hopeful that major producers will agree to extend production cuts at an OPEC meeting on Thursday.

Swiss chemical producer Clariant and U.S.-based Huntsman have unveiled merger plans. The combined firm, worth an estimated $20 billion, will be called HuntsmanClariant and will be traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year.

4. Earnings and economics: Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton will report quarterly results before the open.

The U.S. Census Bureau will report new home sales data for April at 10 a.m. ET. Gains in March were driven by a 26% sales increase in the Northeast.

5. Coming this week:

Monday — Booz Allen Hamilton earnings; Twitter annual shareholder meeting at 10 a.m. ET; Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat speaks at the Economic Club of New York at 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday — Amazon annual shareholder meeting; President Trump’s budget to be released.
Wednesday — Existing home sales numbers; Earnings from Tiffany.
Thursday — Oil ministers from OPEC nations meet; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Best Buy and Costco; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gives a commencement speech at Harvard.
Friday — Second estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP.

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