Thursday December 12th


US stock futures point to a flat open ahead of Trump meeting with top trade advisors

U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday as investors awaited for President Donald Trump to meet with his top trade advisors ahead of a key deadline with China. Around 7:50 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 10 points, indicating a loss of 6 points at the open. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 edged marginally higher. Trump’s meeting, which was first reported by Reuters and cited three unnamed sources familiar with the matter, comes as both sides try to iron out a “phase one” deal with China before Sunday. If an agreement is not reached by then, additional U.S. levies on Chinese products will take effect. Reports from Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal suggested earlier in the week that the U.S. could delay those additional tariffs. However, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the charges were “still on the table.” Uncertainty around trade has led to a muted performance for stocks this week. The major averages are marginally lower week to date entering the session. On Wednesday, stocks posted slight gains after the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady in a target range of 1.5% to 1.75%. The central bank also indicated it would likely not make any policy changes through at least 2020. The U.S. central bank’s decision to keep borrowing costs unchanged was unanimous, following several dissents in recent meetings. On the data front Thursday, the latest weekly jobless claims and producer price index figures for November will both be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled overnight that it would not raise interest rates in 2020. The Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 0.14% to close at 23,424.81 while the Topix index finished its trading day at 1,712.83. South Korea’s Kospi closed 1.51% higher at 2,137.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 1.35%, as of its final hour of trading. Shares in mainland China were lower on the day. The Shanghai composite shed 0.3% to about 2,915.70 while the Shenzhen component fell 0.17% to 9,836.23. The Shenzhen composite declined 0.193% to approximately 1,636.33. Oil prices edged higher on Thursday with the market mood switching to relief as OPEC forecast a supply deficit next year, from doom and gloom over data showing a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories. Brent futures rose 44 cents, or 0.7% to $64.16 a barrel, after skidding 1% on Wednesday on the U.S. stocks build-up. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 25 cents to $59.02 a barrel, following a 0.8% drop the previous session. Gold was steady on Thursday as investors waited to see if new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would emerge to leave interest rates unchanged. Palladium meanwhile soared to yet another record high on a sustained supply shortfall. Spot gold was little changed at $1,474.40 an ounce $1,479.10.