Thursday February 14th


Stock futures cut gains after weak retail sales

U.S. stock index futures gave up most of their gains on Thursday as the release of much weaker-than-expected retail sales data offset optimism around ongoing trade talks. At around 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up just 33 points, indicating a flat open. Earlier in the day, Dow futures were up more than 100 points. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also pointed to a flat open. Retail sales fell 1.2 percent in December, marking their biggest monthly drop since September 2009, according to The Commerce Department. The department also said retail sales fell 0.9 percent in December when excluding gasoline station sales. The data were enough to dampen market sentiment as investors continue to follow news of the U.S.-China trade talks. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that talks were "going very well" as both sides look to reach an agreement before an early March deadline. High-level trade talks between the U.S. and China are underway in Beijing. Stocks in Asia were mixed on Thursday as investors looked for progress in the months-long tariff dispute. There were reports that U.S. President Donald Trump may be considering whether to extend the deadline for a trade deal with China. The mainland Chinese markets closed mostly higher. The Shenzhen component rose 0.597 percent to close at around 8,219.96 while the Shenzhen composite advanced 0.659 percent to finish its trading day at approximately 1,398.84. Meanwhile, the Shanghai composite closed slightly lower at about 2,719.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell more than 0.3 percent, as of its final hour of trading. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 and Topix both closed largely unchanged at 21,139.71 and 1,589.81, respectively. South Korea's Kospi, on the other hand, jumped 1.11 percent to close at 2,225.85. Oil rose for a third day on Thursday to reach its highest so far this year as financial markets drew support from investor optimism that the United States and China could resolve their trade dispute. The price of crude has risen 20 percent this year, driven primarily by the prospect of a decline in oil supply from OPEC and other top exporters such as Russia. "This rally that we're seeing over the last two to three days is completely justified when you put the predicted OPEC production cuts into your global oil supply and demand equation," Tamas Varga of PVM Oil Associates said. Brent crude futures were up 95 cents at $64.56 a barrel by 1007 GMT, down from a session high of $64.81, while U.S. crude futuresrose 56 cents to $54.46 a barrel. Gold was little changed on Thursday as investors awaited clarity on the ongoing trade talks between Washington and Beijing and the U.S. government shutdown, with a strong dollar and stock markets pinning prices near $1,300 an ounce. Spot gold fell 0.16 percent at $1,304.02 per ounce as of 8:26 a.m. ET. U.S. gold futures were down 0.56 percent at $1,307.50.