Thursday December 8th


US stock futures whipsaw after ECB keeps rates unchanged

U.S. stock index futures traded slightly higher on Thursday as traders digested the European Central Bank's decision to keep interest rates unchanged. The central bank also extended its quantitative easing program until December 2017, but will reduce purchases to 60 billion euros per month. ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to hold a news conference later on Thursday. Futures initially fell after the central bank made its announcement before holding higher. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx-600 index was around 0.6 percent higher on Thursday. Back in the U.S., initial jobless claims came in at a five-month low, matching expectations. On Wednesday, the Dow and S&P hit new record highs with the Trump-inspired rally showing little sign of petering out. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 300 points. Asian markets rose Thursday, after major U.S. indexes had a banner session to hit record highs overnight, ahead of the European Central Bank's last interest rate decision for the year. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose to its highest levels this year shrugging off a stronger yen, closing up 1.45 percent or 268.78 points at 18,765.47. The dollar/yen was trading at 113.48 as of 2:35 pm HK/SIN, versus levels around 114 yesterday. Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi finished up 1.97 percent or 39.18 points at 2,031.07 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.44 percent by mid-afternoon. Chinese shares were lower, with the Shanghai composite closed 0.2 percent lower or 6.51 points at 3,215.72 and the Shenzhen composite finished off 0.62 percent or 12.95 points at 2,077.37. Oil prices recovered above $50 a barrel on Thursday, bouncing back from the week's lows as the dollar weakened against major currencies. The U.S. dollar index fell as Treasury bond yields eased and investors eyed next week's Federal Reserve meeting. A weak dollar makes dollar-denominated oil less expensive for importing countries. "A slightly weaker U.S. dollar is supportive of oil prices," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. North Sea Brent crude was up 36 cents at $53.36 a barrel by 8:57 a.m. ET (1357 GMT). U.S. light crude was up 38 cents at $50.15 a barrel. Spot gold fell 0.29 percent to $1,170.35 an ounce by 8:51 a.m EDT. U.S. gold futures were down 0.45 percent at $1,172.30 an ounce.