Friday January 18th


Dow is set to open up 100 points on growing optimism over US-China trade talks

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday morning as investors digested reports that the Trump administration could reduce tariffs imposed on China. As of 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures indicated a gain of more than 130 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also higher. The stock market ended on a positive note on Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. could ease trade tariffs against China. The suggestion reportedly came from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but faced pushback from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Wall Street rallied on the news but pared some of those gains after a senior government official told CNBC that Mnuchin had not made any such recommendations. Shares of Tesla were getting slammed in the premarket after CEO Elon Musk said the automaker is cutting its full-time staff headcount by about 7 percent, as it looks to ramp up production of its Model 3 sedans. Money managers were also following U.S. politics as the government shutdown continues into its 28th day. Meanwhile, with the earnings season in full swing, investors will be watching out for results from Schlumberger, State Street, and SunTrust. In terms of economic data, there will be industrial production figures out at 9:15 a.m. ET and consumer sentiment numbers due at 10 a.m. ET. Asia Pacific markets traded mostly higher on Friday as investors cheered a report saying American officials may be weighing the possibility of easing tariffs on China, in a bid to push forward trade talks. That optimism lifted shares in the Greater China region: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.14 percent in late-afternoon trade. On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai composite gained 1.42 percent to 2,596.01 while the Shenzhen composite and the Shenzhen component both advanced. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 263.80 points, or 1.29 percent, to 20,666.07 while the Topix index was up 14.39 points, or 0.93 percent, at 1,557.59. South Korea’s Kospi gained 17.22 points, or 0.82 percent, to 2,124.28. Oil prices rose over 1 pct on Friday after a report from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)  showed its production fell sharply last month, easing some fears about prolonged oversupply. International Brent crude oil futures were up 62 cents, or 1.01 percent, at $61.80 per barrel at 0955 GMT. Brent has risen about 2 percent this week, its third straight week of gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.64 per barrel, up 57 cents, or 1.09 percent, from their last settlement. Gold slipped to the lowest in more than a week on Friday as hopes of a thaw in the U.S.-China trade dispute perked up stock markets, while palladium held above $1,400 on a supply crunch. Spot gold was down 0.7 percent to $1,282.92 per ounce. U.S. gold futures were down 0.8 percent at $1,282.20 per ounce.