Monday December 30th


Dow futures are little changed as stocks attempt to extend year-end rally

U.S. stock index futures were flat on Monday, the penultimate trading day of a record-breaking year for equities. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 17 points, indicating a slightly lower open of just 4 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were also little changed. U.S. equities have enjoyed a strong rally in December, with the main indexes hitting record highs last week amid year-end optimism. The S&P 500 has notched five straight weeks of gains, rising 29.2% in 2019. The benchmark is within reach of a historic year, sitting less than one percentage point away from having its best year since 1997. Monday marks day four of the so-called Santa Claus rally period, which is typically seen as giving a boost to stocks. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has rallied an average of 1.3% during the final five trading days of the year and the first two sessions of the new year, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. Market sentiment has been boosted by easing tensions over U.S.-China trade relations. The world’s two largest economies agreed earlier this month to a so-called “phase one” trade deal. But political concerns continue to simmer in the background, after President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. The president over the weekend retweeted a post that included the alleged name of the whistleblower whose complaint led to Trump’s impeachment. In terms of data, U.S. international trade and retail inventories figures for November are due to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Major Asia Pacific stocks ended mixed on Monday — the last full trading day of the year for several major markets in the region. Mainland Chinese markets rose at the close of the trading day on Monday. The Shanghai composite gained 1.16% to end at 3,040.02, while the Shenzhen composite was higher by 0.92% and closed at 1,713.51. The Shenzhen component rose 1.29% to 10,365.96. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was also higher, rising more than 0.3% in its final hour of trade. Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.76% to close at 23,656.62, while the Topix fell 0.68% to 1,721.36. South Korea’s Kospi pared earlier gains to trade lower by 0.3%. Oil prices held on to three-month highs on Monday, underpinned by optimism over an expected China-US trade deal and upbeat industrial data, while traders kept a close watch on the Middle East following U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria. Brent crude futures were up 1% at $68.87 a barrel. The international benchmark has risen around 27% in 2019. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 36 cents to $62.08 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark is up about 36% so far this year. Gold prices rose to their highest in more than two months on Monday in thin year-end trading as the dollar dipped and U.S. military strikes in the Middle East drove investors towards the safe-haven metal. Spot gold rose 0.3% to $1,514.94 per ounce by 0359 GMT. Earlier in the session, prices hit their highest since Oct. 25 at $1,515.80. U.S. gold futures were unchanged at $1,518.