Thursday September 23rd


U.S. stock futures rise for a second-day as market claws its way back from September losses

U.S. stock index futures were set to jump for a second day as fears around a crisis in China’s property market eased somewhat and as the Federal Reserve kept current monetary stimulus in place for just a little bit longer. Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 238 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures rose 0.6% and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.6%. Stocks linked to a global economic recovery rose in premarket trading. Freeport-McMoRan shares added 3.5%. Las Vegas Sands, which has big China exposure, rose 1.5%. Caterpillar added nearly 1%. Energy stocks were also higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rebounded more than 1% from losses this week with China property developer Evergrande Group rallying more than 17%. On Wednesday, the company eased fears a bit by resolving payment on a local bond. But global investors are still waiting on whether the company will pay $83 million in interest on a U.S. dollar-denominated bond due Thursday. Government regulators instructed Evergrande to avoid a near-term dollar bond default, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar. At the same time, Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Chinese government is asking local authorities to prep for a “possible storm” if Evergrande fails. U.S. futures came off their highs following the WSJ report. The Labor Department reported Thursday morning that initial jobless claims rose last week as the U.S. labor market continues its recovery from last year’s recession. There were 351,000 claims last week, topping estimates of 320,000. The reading for the week prior came in at 332,000. Stocks finished higher across the board Wednesday after the Federal Reserve kept benchmark interest rates unchanged, while indicating no immediate intention of removing stimulus policies. The Dow gained roughly 340 points, or 1%, for its first positive session in five and best day since July 20. The S&P advanced 0.95%, also snapping a four-day losing streak and registering its best day since July 23. The Nasdaq Composite finished the session 1.02% higher, while the Russell 2000 outperformed on the session, rising 1.48%. “If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted,” a statement from the Fed following the meeting read. No timeline was given, however. The central bank implemented a $120 billion per month bond-buying program last year as the pandemic shuttered the economy. As economic conditions improve more members of the Federal Open Market Committee now see the first rate hike happening in 2022. “The Fed struck a positive tone, acknowledging that the economy is strong enough to stand on its own two feet and the central bank can begin removing the monetary stimulus that they’ve been providing since the beginning of the Covid crisis,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. “Although there may be some additional turbulence this fall, we are constructive on the US economy in general and believe that any dips would be worth buying as the fundamentals are still sound and recession appears to be more than a year away at this point,” he added. Wednesday’s move was not enough to push stocks into the green for the week, however. The Nasdaq Composite is down 0.98% over the last three sessions, while the S&P and Dow have dipped 0.84% and 0.94%, respectively. For the month, the S&P 500 and Dow are both down about 3% and the Nasdaq is off by 2%. “We believe the S&P 500 has further room to run, but one of the biggest downside risks stems from valuations amid the prospect of higher yields/ERPs, less liquidity and slower growth,” UBS said in a recent note to clients. Several companies are on deck for quarterly updates Thursday including Darden Restaurants which will report before the market opens, while Nike and Costco Wholesale will provide quarterly updates once the market closes. Flash estimates for September Manufacturing PMI and Services PMI will also be released. Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Thursday as investors in Asia-Pacific continued monitoring the situation surrounding China Evergrande Group. Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher, with the Shanghai composite climbing 0.38% to 3,642.22 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.772% to 14,387.36. South Korea’s Kospi, returning to trade from holidays earlier in the week, slipped 0.41% on the day to 3,127.58. Markets in Japan were closed on Thursday. Oil prices extended gains on Thursday, riding higher on growing fuel demand and a bigger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude inventories as production remains hampered in the Gulf of Mexico after two hurricanes. The market was also supported by a return of appetite for risk assets as concerns eased over a potential default by property developer China Evergrande and its possible fallout on the world’s second-largest economy. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 17 cents, or 0.2%, to $72.40 a barrel by 0645 GMT, while Brent crude rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $76.37 a barrel. Gold steadied on Thursday as the dollar gave up some gains that were driven by the U.S. central bank’s hints at faster-than-expected interest rate hikes, but positive news on China’s Evergrande limited interest for safe-haven bullion. Spot gold was 0.2% higher at $1,770.94 per ounce by 5:24 a.m. ET, while U.S. gold futures fell 0.5% to $1,769.50.