Wednesday December 9th


Rollercoaster commodities stay in focus for Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a softer open on Wednesday after two days of intense volatility in oil markets, which have rocked commodity and mining stocks and added to the anxiety ahead of the Fed's meeting next week. Oil could again be volatile, particularly with 10:30 a.m. ET release of petroleum inventory data expected from the Energy Information Administration. Other data due for release includes wholesale inventories numbers for October due at 10:00 a.m. ET. The Treasury auctions $21 billion in reopened 10-year notes at 1 p.m. ET. Oil prices rose on Wednesday after American Petroleum Institute data, released after Tuesday's market close, showed a surprise drawdown in supply, offering the market support amid an ongoing supply glut. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 0.43 percent, or 20 cents at $37.70 per barrel early on Wednesday. Internationally traded Brent futures were up 13 cents at $40.37 a barrel. Since the start of this month, oil is down about 10.4 percent, while the S&P is off 1.9 percent, but without energy stocks it would be down 1.2 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. "It is slowly becoming apparent that the slide in commodity prices could well turn into a more prolonged slump and while in some respects that has a net benefit for consumers at one end it has a rather chilling effect at the other end in the context of highly leveraged basic resource stocks, as well as banks that have large lending exposures to the sector," said chief market analyst at CMC Markets, Michael Hewson. Analysts had expected this week to be relatively quiet with traders awaiting the Fed's rate decision next week. The Fed is expected to raise its fed funds target rate by 0.25 percent, in the first rate hike in nine years. In Europe, equities failed to hold on to early gains amid a slight recovery in oil prices, following yesterday's harsh sell-off. Asian equities ended lower on Wednesday as major markets such as Japan and China released economic data. Japan posted two consecutive days of positive economic data. On Tuesday, the revised third quarter gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic health, number showed the economy was not in technical recession as indicated by the preliminary data.  Market reaction, however, was modest as the spillover effect of low commodity prices pushed the Nikkei 225 down 191 points or 0.98 percent at 19,301. Gold steadied on Wednesday, supported by softness in the dollar and European shares, but investors remained cautious ahead of an anticipated Federal Reserve rate rise next week. Spot gold rose 0.7 percent to $1,082.66 an ounce. The metal is about $30 higher than a near-six-year low reached last week. U.S. gold futures were up 0.6 percent at $1,082.50 an ounce.