Friday April 8th


Dow futures up 100 points; Street eyes Fed speakers

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Friday morning as traders eyed the comments of Federal Reserve officials. New York Fed President William Dudley said a cautious, gradual approach to rate hikes is appropriate. Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan is also due to speak on the political economy of Texas and Mexico at 9:30 a.m. On Thursday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen touted the strength of the U.S. economy, rebuffing political rhetoric suggesting a bubble is ready to burst. "I certainly wouldn't describe this as a bubble economy," Yellen said, noting a "healing" labor market and a 5 percent headline unemployment number. Yellen's comments came during a panel with former Fed Chairs Ben Bernanke, Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan at the International House in New York. Her remarks helped support a more risk-on sentiment. The yen came off recent highs against the U.S. dollar, trading near 108.6 yen as of 8 a.m. ET. Treasury yields edged higher and gold traded mildly lower. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed up 0.46 percent, while the Shanghai Composite in China closed 0.75 percent lower. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 Index was up by 0.7 percent on Friday morning. On the data front, wholesale trade is due at 10:00 a.m. Oil prices rose as much as 4 percent on Friday, lifted by fresh hopes over a proposed freeze in oil production and firm economic indicators from the United States and Germany that cast a positive light on growth in fuel demand. Russia's oil production could fall in April, sources said, while the country's energy minister expressed hopes that producer nations could agree to an output freeze at a meeting in Doha later this month. Front month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading up $1.44, or 3.9 percent, at $38.70 per barrel at 8:01 a.m. ET (1201 GMT). International Brent futures were up $1.33, or 3.4 percent, at $40.76 a barrel. Gold fell on Friday as strength in equities prompted investors to cash in some of the previous day's gains, but remained on track for its biggest weekly rise in five as the Federal Reserve stayed cautious on U.S. rate hikes. Spot gold was down 0.37 percent at $1,235.60 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for June delivery were flat at $1,237 an ounce. Prices are up 1 percent this week, chiefly due to a 1.5 percent rally on Thursday.