Wednesday December 23rd


Dow futures briefly add 100 amid data as Street eyes oil recovery

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday amid a deluge of data, on the last full trading day of Christmas week. Higher oil prices helped support pre-market gains in stock index futures, ahead of crude inventory data due later in the morning. Durable goods orders were unchanged in November. U.S. personal income rose 0.3 percent. In the 12 months through November, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index was up 0.4 percent after rising 0.2 percent in October, Reuters said. Excluding food and energy, prices nudged up 0.1 percent after being unchanged in October. The so-called core PCE price index rose 1.3 percent in the 12 months through November, for the 11th straight month. U.S. consumer spending rose by 0.3 percent last month after holding steady in October, according to figures inadvertently released late on Tuesday by the Commerce Department. The data was originally due for release at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Treasury yields held near highs touched prior to the data releases, while the U.S. dollar held a touch higher against major world currencies, with the euro weaker near $1.091 as of 8:36 a.m., ET. Also due is the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey for December, and, following Tuesday's weak existing home sales numbers, new home sales figures for November at 10:00 a.m. ET. Wednesday is the last full trading day of the week, as Thursday is a half day for the Christmas Eve holiday. Heading into the final two weeks of the year, limited liquidity is likely to heighten the severity of market moves, particularly during the holiday periods of Christmas and New Year's Eve, when most Western markets will be closed. Oil prices will remain in focus for traders Wednesday, as U.S. crude prices rose to a premium over internationally traded Brent on Wednesday. U.S. inventories released by the American Petroleum Institute showed a surprise dip. Official inventory data from the EIA will be published later on Wednesday. Front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading higher at $36.85 a barrel, while brent held near $36.82 a barrel as of 8:23 a.m., ET. Brent crude earlier traded as low as $36.28 a barrel, flipping WTI from a long-standing discount into a slight premium over the international benchmark for the first time since November 2014, according to Reuters. Both brent and crude continued to trade around parity throughout the morning session. European markets traded sharply higher on Wednesday, following a rally in U.S. and Asian stocks as the oil price edged higher. The pan-European STOXX 600 was up over 1.6 percent in mid-morning London trade. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up about 166 points after earlier gaining nearly 200 points in afternoon trade. Asia stocks ended mixed in quiet trade on Wednesday following a sharp rally on Wall Street and higher oil prices. Markets in Japan were shut for the Emperor's Birthday. The region is expected to see quiet trading for the rest of the week amid the Christmas holiday break. Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines will be open for a half-day on Thursday while Japan and China will be the only major markets open on Friday. China's Shanghai Composite erased gains in the final hour of trade, snapping a two-day winning streak, while the blue-chip CSI300 index retreated after hitting a new a four-month high for the second straight session. Gold steadied on Wednesday, hemmed into a narrow range in thin pre-holiday trade, as a recovery in oil prices from 11-year lows offset fresh strength in the dollar. Spot gold was at $1,072.56 an ounce, little changed from $1,071.96 late on Tuesday, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down $1.60 an ounce at $1,072.50.