Friday September 20th


Stock futures point to slightly higher open as Wall Street nears record highs

U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher Friday morning, pushing Wall Street closer to record highs set earlier this year. At around 7:10 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial Average futures rose 53 points, indicating a gain of 40 points. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 were both marginally higher. The Dow came into Friday’s session 1.1% removed from its all-time high while the S&P 500 was 0.7% below its record mark. The Nasdaq Composite remained 1.9% away from its record. The moves in premarket trade come shortly after deputy trade negotiators from the U.S. and China resumed face-to-face talks for the first time in almost two months. The deputy-level trade talks are expected to help lay the groundwork for high-level negotiations early next month. Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. In recent weeks, economic stimulus around the world has helped to ease fears about slowing global growth. Monetary easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve this week and by the European Central Bank last week appears to have improved market sentiment. Investors are likely to closely monitor a flurry of speeches from policymakers at the U.S. central bank on Friday. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and New York Fed President John Williams are all due to comment on the world’s largest economy. There are no major economic data reports expected on Friday. On Thursday, the Dow gave up a 100-point gain and the S&P held steady to close just 0.7% away from a record high. Stocks in Asia Pacific edged up on Friday as investors digested a series of developments overnight on the U.S.-China trade front that dampened hopes of a deal being reached between the two economic powerhouses. Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite rising 0.24% to about 3,006.45 and Shenzhen component gaining 0.29% to 9,881.25. The Shenzhen component added 0.162% to approximately 1,675.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.16% lower, as of its final hour of trading. Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.16% on the day to 22,079.09 while the Topix index closed less than 0.1% higher at 1,616.23. In South Korea, the Kospi advanced 0.54% to end its trading day at 2,091.52. Oil prices were on track to jump more than 7% this week, their biggest weekly rise in months, on rising Middle East tensions after a key Saudi Arabian supply hub was knocked out in an attack last weekend. A Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation north of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, as the United States worked with Middle East and European nations to build a coalition to deter Iranian threats after the Saudi attack. Brent crude is on track to rise around 7% this week, the biggest weekly gain since January. The front-month November contract was at $64.53 a barrel, up 13 cents, by 0903 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 37 cents to $58.50 a barrel, set to post a gain of over 6% for the week. Gold rose on Friday, heading for its first weekly rise in four, helped by a weaker dollar and escalating tensions in the Middle East, while palladium soared to a new all-time peak amid short supply. Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,503.28 per ounce, up about 1% so far this week. U.S. gold futures were up 0.3% at $1,510.80.