Investing.com -- Retailers are expected to unveil deep Cyber Monday sales in a bid to persuade inflation-squeezed American consumers to open up their wallets ahead of the holidays. Meanwhile, markets will be monitoring shoppers' behavior as they try to parse out the Federal Reserve's future interest rate path. Elsewhere, Elon Musk is due to meet with Israel's president, while U.S. President Joe Biden will reportedly skip the upcoming COP28 climate conference.
1. Futures inch lower
U.S. stock futures pointed lower prior to start off a fresh trading week, as investors attempted to gauge how customer spending habits during a series of annual post-Thanksgiving promotional drives may impact Federal Reserve interest rate policy decisions.
By 04:55 ET (09:55 GMT), the Dow futures contract had slipped 91 points or 0.3%, S&P 500 futures had dropped by 12 points or 0.3%, and Nasdaq 100 futures had fallen by 38 points or 0.2%. Last week, the main indices on Wall Street jumped to a fourth-consecutive winning week.
Prior to both Black Friday and today's Cyber Monday sales events (see below), many retail companies had flagged that American shoppers could be less willing to spend big on holiday gifts this year due to high inflation and elevated interest rates.
Traders are curious to see if any signs that consumers are reining in expenditures may convince Fed officials to end their long-standing campaign of monetary policy tightening aimed at cooling inflationary pressures. The U.S. central bank is already widely anticipated to leave rates steady at a meeting in December, while bets have grown that it could even begin to slash borrowing costs sometime next year.
These expectations supported a surge in gold prices to their highest level since May during Asian trading on Monday. Bolstering gold's rise has been weakness in the U.S. dollar, with the greenback on track for its biggest monthly slide in a year.
2. Cyber Monday discounts in focus
Markets will be keeping a close eye on Cyber Monday promotions today, after retailers rolled out deeper discounts on Black Friday to entice price-conscious U.S. customers.
Cyber Monday, when firms typically offer special sales online during the first Monday after American Thanksgiving, is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the world's largest economy.
Fueling these projections were numbers from Black Friday. According to third-party analytics groups cited by the Wall Street Journal, U.S. retail sales both online and in stores during the day after Thanksgiving grew by 2.5% versus the previous year.
An executive at Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), which tracks retail data, told Reuters that online spending in particular totaled $16.4 billion on Black Friday, as shoppers raced to take advantage of discounts averaging 30%. The strong online demand is estimated to push Cyber Monday sales up by 5.4% year-on-year to a record $12B, Reuters reported, quoting an analyst at Salesforce peer Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Digital Insights.
3. Musk to meet with Israel's president
Elon Musk is due to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday, Herzog's office announced over the weekend.
The talks come as Musk, the tech tycoon behind electric carmaker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and rocket firm SpaceX, has faced criticism from civil rights groups regarding anti-Jewish content on his X social media platform. It also coincides with a four-day truce in hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Herzog's office said that the two will discuss "the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online."
Musk previously spoke in September with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called for a balance between shielding free expression and preventing hate speech on X. Musk also said at the time that he was against statements that promote "hate and conflict."
4. Crude falls ahead of delayed OPEC+ meeting
Oil prices fell Monday, as investors warily awaited the delayed OPEC+ meeting later in the week for news of upcoming production levels.
By 04:57 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 1.2% lower at $74.65 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 1.1% to $79.63 per barrel.
The crude benchmarks are coming off their first winning week in five, despite dropping sharply after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, also known as OPEC+, postponed a meeting to Nov. 30 from Nov. 26. The delay was reportedly caused by disagreements over planned production cuts.
The group has since moved closer to a compromise that could potentially see an extension of unilateral Saudi and Russian output reductions through at least the first quarter of next year, according to reports.
5. Biden to miss COP28 - reports
U.S. President Joe Biden will not be attending the COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates that is set to begin later this week, according to U.S. officials cited by various news outlets.
The president was already widely tipped not to attend the event as he faces twin concerns over violence in the Middle East and a looming re-election battle next year.
Biden, who has made fighting climate change a key pillar of both his domestic and foreign agendas, will miss out on an opportunity to personally take part in a gathering that will reportedly center around the future of fossil fuels.
He had previously attended COP summits in the U.K. and Egypt following his inauguration in 2021.