Friday February 15th


Stock futures rise as Wall Street heads for another week of solid gains

U.S. stock index futures rose slightly on Friday as the major indexes headed for solid weekly gains. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 25 points, indicating a gain of 16.61 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures pointed to a flat open. The 30-stock Dow and Nasdaq Composite were both on pace to post their eight consecutive weekly gain. The S&P 500, meanwhile, was on track for its seventh weekly gain in eight. The indexes were all up more than 1 percent entering Friday's session. Stocks got a boost this week amid hope that a trade deal between the U.S. and China will be reached. A U.S. trade delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was in Beijing this week. Chinese President Xi Jinping said talks will continue next week in Washington. China and the U.S. are trying to strike a trade deal before an early March deadline. If a deal is not reached by then, additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods could take effect. President Donald Trump, however, is considering pushing back the deadline by 60 days to give negotiators more time to come up with a deal. On the data front, the Empire State manufacturing index rebounded in February after hitting the lowest level in a year. The index rose 4.9 points to 8.8 in February, the New York Fed said Friday. Economists had expected a reading of 7.6, according to a survey by Econoday. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions. The consumer sentiment numbers will be out at 10 a.m. ET. On Thursday, U.S. retail sales data showed a contraction of 1.2 percent in December – the biggest monthly fall since September of 2009. As a result, Wall Street ended the day lower. Major Asian stock markets closed lower on Friday, following the release of U.S. retail data overnight which raised concerns over a slowing American economy. Investors await developments from the ongoing U.S-China trade negotiations in Beijing. Mainland Chinese markets saw losses on the day. The Shanghai composite slipped 1.37 percent to close at 2,682.38 while the Shenzhen component declined 1.148 percent to finish its trading day at 8,125.63. The Shenzhen composite also declined 0.67 percent to close at 1,389.47. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 1.91 percent in its final hour of trading. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.13 percent to close at 20,900.63 while the Topix shed 0.79 percent to end at 1,577.29. South Korea's Kospi shed 1.34 percent to close at 2,196.09. Brent crude oil reached 2019 highs above $65 per barrel on Friday, as OPEC-led supply cuts and the announcement of a higher-than-expected cut by Saudi Arabia this week encouraged investors. The international oil benchmark rose as high as $65.37, pushing past $65 for the first time this year. It was last up 55 cents, or nearly 1 percent, at $65.12. Brent is near a three-month high and set to rise almost 5 percent on the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 46 cents, also up about 1 percent, to $54.87 per barrel. For the week, WTI is on pace to rise about 4 percent. OPEC, along with allies led by Russia, made voluntary production cuts beginning last month aimed at tightening the market. Gold rose to its highest in two weeks on Friday after weak U.S. economic data compounded concern over a global slowdown and dialled down the chances of the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates this year. Spot gold was up 0.31 percent at $1,316.51 an ounce at 8:45 a.m. ET, having touched its highest since Feb. 1 at $1,319.22, keeping prices on track for a small weekly gain. U.S. gold futures rose 0.46 percent to $1,320.