Thursday December 29th


Wall Street points to a flat open, as investors lose hope of Dow hitting 20,000 this year

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday, as investors prepared to wade through more data, while trying to see if there's any chance of the Dow Jones' reaching 20,000 before the year is out. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 113 points during its session, its second triple-digit loss since the U.S. election, and closed 0.56 percent lower, at 19,833.68. As a result, the hope for the Dow topping 20,000 before 2016 ends is slowly falling away for investors. On the data front, Thursday will see the release of the most recent jobless claims data, due out at 8.30 a.m. ET, on top of U.S. trade deficit data, expected at 8.30 a.m. ET also. Meanwhile in oil, WTI and Brent crude futures hovered around the flat-line or posted slight losses early on Thursday, with WTI slightly down at $53.80, while Brent eked out slight gains, at $56.25. As the light festive trading season continues to get underway, European stocks posted slight losses on Thursday morning, while Asia-Pacific indexes finished mixed overnight. All major U.S. indexes closed lower in the previous session. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1.32 percent or 256.6 points at 19,145.14, weighed by pressure from a stronger yen and Toshiba's plunging shares. South Korea's Kospi ended up 0.1 percent, or 2 points at 2,026.46. South Korea's finance ministry also revised its 2017 gross domestic product forecast for 2017, down to 2.6 percent from 3.0 percent earlier. Seoul also reported that industrial output jumped 3.4 percent in November from the previous month, its strongest monthly gain in almost seven years. The Shanghai composite closed down 0.18 percent or 5.7 points at 3,096.56 and the Shenzhen composite ended down 0.31 percent or 6.1 points at 1,966.24. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was nearly flat by 3:05 pm local time, ahead of its November trade figures which will be released after the market close. No earnings are expected to be released on Thursday. Gold prices rose to their highest in two weeks on Thursday as the dollar and U.S. bond yields declined following weaker than expected economic data. Spot gold hit $1,150.26 an ounce, its highest since Dec. 14., and was up 0.3 percent at $1,145.96. U.S. gold futures rose 0.5 percent to $1,147.60 an ounce.