Thursday December 19th


Stock futures point to flat open as traders weigh economic data, impeachment

U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as Wall Street digested mixed economic data along with news of President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Around 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 8 points, but indicated marginal gain at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to a muted start to the session. Weekly jobless claims fell to 234,000 from 252,000 the week before. However, economists polled by Reuters expected claims to fall to 225,000. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business conditions index fell to 0.3 in December from 10.4 in the previous month. Economists expected the index to slip to 8. Treasury yields dipped slightly following the data releases. Wall Street fell short of extending its five-day winning streak on Wednesday, as stocks reversed gains late in the trading day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had both climbed to reach intraday all-time highs earlier in the session. The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump became only the third president to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and will now face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, Wall Street has largely shrugged off impeachment news as the chances of a trial conviction in the Senate are low. Because of this, the market’s performance during Trump’s impeachment process is tracking that of the time when former President Bill Clinton was impeached. The S&P 500 is up nearly 7% since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September. During Clinton’s impeachment process, the broad index surged more than 26%. Shares in Japan were lower on Thursday as the Bank of Japan (BoJ) kept monetary policy steady. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.29% to close at 23,864.85 as shares of FamilyMart dropped more than 2%. The Topix index also declined 0.13% to end its trading day at 1,736.11. Elsewhere, mainland Chinese stocks recovered from an earlier slip by the market close. The Shanghai composite was largely unchanged at 3,017.07 while the Shenzhen composite gained 0.21% to around 1,713.03. The Shenzhen component was mostly flat at 10,296.29. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined more than 0.4%, as of its final hour of trading. South Korea’s Kospi closed slightly higher at 2,196.56. Oil prices hovered near three-month peaks on Thursday, buoyed by falling U.S. crude inventories and thawing trade relations between the United States and China. Brent crude futures edged up 3 cents to $66.20 a barrel, heading for a sixth straight day of gains if prices on Thursday end in positive territory. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 5 cents to $60.98 a barrel. Gold eased on Thursday as optimism surrounding U.S.-China trade ties offset support from political uncertainty stemming from the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Spot gold dipped 0.1% to $1,473.60 per ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1% to $1,477.90.