Friday March 15th


Dow set to climb more than 100 points on US-China trade deal hopes

U.S. stock index futures traded slightly higher on Friday morning, as investors monitored progress in U.S.-China trade talks and reacted to the latest Brexit developments. At around 7 a.m. ET, Dow futures pointed to a higher open of more than 100 points. Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also seen opening higher. Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, as sentiment improved on a report that more progress has been made in talks between the world's two largest economies. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke via telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Xinhua news agency reported Friday. It comes after Mnuchin said on Thursday that a summit to secure a comprehensive trade agreement between President Donald Trumpand Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would not happen at the end of March as previously discussed. Meanwhile, Trump said Thursday that the U.S. would probably know in the next three or four weeks about a possible trade deal with China. In Europe, U.K. lawmakers voted on Thursday to seek a delay in Britain's exit from the EU. It marked the end to a dramatic trilogy of events this week which have added yet more confusion into the whole Brexit process. British Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing once more to try and win approval for her twice-rejected Brexit deal. Back in the U.S., investors will closely monitor a slew of economic data on Friday. Manufacturing activity in New York State expanded at a slower rate than expected, The New York Fed’s Empire State index fell to a reading of 3.7 in March from 8.8 in the prior month, a near two-year low. Economists had expected a reading of 10, according to a survey by Econoday. followed by industrial production numbers at 09:15 a.m. ET and consumer sentiment data at 10 a.m. ET. No major earnings are scheduled for Friday. Asia Pacific markets mostly traded higher on Friday as investors reacted to the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision as well as an overnight vote from U.K. lawmakers that could potentially delay its exit from the European Union. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 retraced some of its gains but still rose 0.77 percent to 21,450.85 while the Topix index added 0.9 percent to 1,602.63. South Korea's Kospi was 0.95 percent higher at 2,176.11 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 0.82 percent. Chinese mainland shares also traded higher: The Shanghai composite was up 1.04 percent at 3,021.75 while the Shenzhen composite added 1.42 percent to 1,641.37. Oil prices edged up on Friday, with U.S. crude climbing to its highest so far this year as production cuts led by OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran likely created a slight deficit in global supply in the first quarter. Yet prices have been prevented from rising further by concerns that an economic slowdown will soon start denting growth in fuel demand. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were up 15 cents at $58.76 per barrel at 0745 GMT, their strongest so far in 2019. Brent crude oil futures were at $67.43 per barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement, and within a dollar of their $68.14 2019-high reached the previous day. Oil has rallied around a quarter since the start of the year. Gold bounced back above $1,300 an ounce as the dollar eased and global growth fears ramped up. Spot gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,302.56 per ounce, having shed 1 percent on Thursday. It held on track for a second consecutive weekly gain. U.S. gold futures rose 0.58 percent to $1,302.5.