Friday November 20th


Wall Street looks to central bank speakers

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Friday as traders looked to speeches from central bankers as well as oil prices. Ahead of the open, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi said that the ECB stands ready to act promptly and decisively if it decides that its current policy is failing to stimulate the sluggish euro zone economy. During trading hours, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and New York Fed President William Dudley will speak on the economy. Fed speakers are likely to continue to drive their message that they would like to hike rates, if the economy continues to improve. The price of oil could again be a magnet for stocks, as the December futures contract rolls off the board, and January becomes the front-month contract at the Nymex at the end of the session. The January contract settled down at $41.72 per barrel Thursday, while the December contract fell 21 cents at $40.54 per barrel. In oil markets, Brent crude traded at around $44.21 a barrel, up 0.07 percent, while U.S. crude was at around $40.01 a barrel, 1.31 percent lower. On the data front, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey is set to be released Friday. On the earnings front, Foot Locker and Abercrombie & Fitch are expected before the bell. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index was around 0.2 percent higher on Friday. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei finished 0.1 percent higher, while in China the Shanghai composite closed 0.38 percent higher. Gold gained on Friday, extending the previous day's rally, as expectations that the Federal Reserve will take its time over raising interest rates prompted a wave of short covering after prices hit near six-year lows. The market had become overextended on the downside after falling to its lowest since February 2010 at $1,064.95 an ounce on Thursday, analysts said. A suggestion in the minutes of the Federal Reserve's last meeting that the bank would move cautiously on rates prompted the short covering. Spot gold was up 0.14 percent at $1,083.61 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were up $5.10 an ounce at $1,083. The metal is set to end the week little changed after prices jumped 1.1 percent on Thursday.