Thursday March 14th


Stock futures signal higher open, but gains capped as Trump-Xi meeting reportedly being pushed back

U.S. stock index futures pointed to small gains at the open on Thursday, but gains were capped after a trade meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese President Xi Jinping will reportedly be pushed back. At around 8:10 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down about 14 points but indicated a gain of 24 points. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also pointed to a higher open. Bloomberg News reported China and the U.S. are trying to push back a meeting between the countries' two leaders from late March to April at the earliest. This comes after Trump said he was in no rush to form an agreement. Bloomberg's report comes after China's industrial output expanded at its slowest rate in 17 years. Investors expected the two leaders to meet at Mar-a-Lago later this month as both sides claimed progress was being made on trade negotiations. Tech shares were set to lift stocks slightly on Thursday. Apple shares rose more than 1 percent after Cowen initiated coverage of the company with an outperform rating and a $220 price target. Cowen cited potential long-term upside from Apple's services business. Snap, meanwhile, rallied more than 6 percent after BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield — a longtime skeptic of the social media company — upgraded the stock to buy for the first time. "Performance advertisers are laser focused on return on investment and spend (and spend more) where they see a compelling return," he said, noting the stock could rise 50 percent in the next 12 months. Elsewhere, General Electric seesawed after the industrial giant issued weaker-than-expected earnings guidance for 2019. The stock initially fell around 4 percent in the premarket before turning around to trade 1.3 percent higher. Asia Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday after data showed growth in China's industrial output fell. Overnight, British lawmakers rejected the idea of leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal in place. The Nikkei 225 in Japan gave up its gains to finish flat at 21,287.02 while the Topix index fell 0.24 percent to 1,588.29. In South Korea, the Kospi wavered between gains and losses to close up 0.34 percent at 2,155.68. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.22 percent in afternoon trade. Chinese mainland shares withdrew as the Shanghai composite fell 1.2 percent to 2,990.68 while the Shenzhen composite tumbled 2.311 percent. Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures reached four-months highs on Thursday, as a production curb agreement by OPEC and its partners along with U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela tightened global supplies. An unexpected dip in U.S. crude oil inventories and production also supported prices, traders said. Brent crude oil futures hit a 2019-peak of $68.14 per barrel on Thursday before easing modestly to $67.05 by 0840 GMT, up 50 cents or 0.74 percent from Wednesday's close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.62 per barrel, up 36 cents, or 0.62 percent, from their last settlement. Gold fell on Thursday as the dollar regained some ground and uncertainty over Brexit eased, but the metal held close to a two-week high hit in the previous session as tepid U.S. inflation data cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve would hold rates. Spot gold was down 0.91 percent at $1297.07 per ounce, after touching its highest since March 1 at $1,311.07 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures also dipped 0.94 percent, to $1,297 an ounce.