Thursday April 11th


US stock futures edge higher on trade deal hopes

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher start to the trading day Thursday as investors cheered progress on U.S.-China trade talks. At 7:17 a.m. E.T., Dow Jones Industrial Average futures indicated a gain of about 53 points at the open. Futures for Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 were also higher. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Wednesday that Washington and Beijing have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” for when a deal is struck. “We are hopeful we can do this quickly, but we are not going to set an arbitrary deadline,” Mnuchin added. “If we can complete this agreement, this will be the most significant changes to the economic relationship between the U.S. and China in really the last 40 years.” The Wall Street Journal also reported that China agreed to open its cloud-computing sector to foreign companies in an attempt to sweeten a deal with the U.S. Investors also weighed news that talks between EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May culminated in a “flexible extension ” of the U.K.’s departure from the bloc until Oct. 31. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said this development provides extra time for the “U.K. to find the best possible solution.” Wednesday’s moves follow the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its March monetary policy meeting on Wednesday. Last month, the U.S. central bank decided to maintain interest rates and hold off an any further increases this year. The minutes revealed that Fed officials are leaving room for possible interest rate increases by the end of the year but currently do not expect to make any changes. Major stock markets in Asia closed mixed on Thursday amid geopolitical developments, including European Union leaders and the U.K. agreeing to a “flexible extension ” of the Brexit deadline till Oct. 31. Mainland Chinese stocks declined on the day, with the Shanghai compositedeclining 1.6 percent to 3,189.96 and the Shenzhen component slipping about 2.65 percent to 10,158.40. The Shenzhen composite also fell 2.187 percent to 1,740.37. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.81 percent in its final hour of trading. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.11 percent higher at 21,711.38, while the Topix index fell slightly to finish its trading day at 1,606.52. Over in South Korea, the Kospi closed virtually flat at 2,224.44. Oil prices fell on Thursday, but prices continued to find a floor as OPEC-led cuts and free-falling Venezuelan output tighten global supplies. International benchmark Brent futures were down 63 cents, or nearly 1%, at $71.10 a barrel around 7:45 a.m. ET (1345 GMT). Brent hit a more than five-month high at $71.78 on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell 59 cents, or 1%, to $64.02 per barrel. WTI was not far off Tuesday’s high of $64.79 going back to Nov. 1. U.S. crude inventories surged by 7 million barrels to a 17-month high of 456.6 million barrels last week, the Energy Information administration said on Wednesday. However, U.S. gasoline stocks fell by a whopping 7.7 million barrels, sending U.S. gasoline futures higher by 3.5 percent on their close on Wednesday. Gold eased on Thursday as investors booked some profit from the metal’s strong run this week, but bullion held near a two-week peak supported by concerns over an economic slowdown, as major central banks retained a dovish policy stance. Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,304.63 per ounce. It touched its highest since March 28 at $1,310.50 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures were about 0.4 percent lower at $1,308.50 an ounce. Spot prices have rebounded from a near 10-week low touched last week at $1,280.59.