Friday June 17th


Futures off lows amid data

U.S. stock-index futures indicated a lower open on Friday as traders eyed the release of housing starts and building permits and kept an eye on developments in foreign markets. May housing starts declined 0.3 percent, while building permits rose 0.7 percent. The pan European Stoxx 600 Index was up by 1.01 percent on Friday. On June 23, the U.K. will go to the polls to vote on whether to stay in or leave the European Union, and some of the tension in markets could end if a Brexit vote is rejected. On Thursday U.K. lawmaker Jo Cox died after being stabbed and shot, and campaigns on both sides of the referendum were temporarily suspended. Investors in the U.S. also digested remarks made by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, in which he said only one rate hike is needed through 2018. "An older narrative that the Bank has been using since the financial crisis ended has now likely outlived its usefulness, and so it is being replaced by a new narrative. The hallmark of the new narrative is to think of medium- and longer-term macroeconomic outcomes in terms of regimes," Bullard said. Asia's major markets closed higher on the final day of a volatile week amid easing concerns that the U.K. would vote to exit the European Union in its June 23 referendum. Investor sentiment in Asia also received a boost after U.S. stocks ended a five-day losing streak to close higher Thursday. Japanese shares received a boost from a relatively weaker yen, as the benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 165.52 points, or 1.07 percent, at 15,599.66; for the week, the index lost 6.03 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi finished nearly flat at 1,953.40; Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.42 percent as of 2:51 p.m. HK/SIN. Chinese mainland shares closed higher, with the benchmark Shanghai composite up 12.22 points, or 0.43 percent, at 2,885.04, and the Shenzhen composite added 15.29 points, or 0.81 percent, to 1,900.73. Crude oil prices rose on Friday for the first time in seven days as markets took a breather from concerns about the impact of Britain's possible exit from the European Union. Brent crude futures were up $1.15, or 2.4 percent, at $48.34 a barrel by 7:08 a.m. ET (1108 GMT) after slumping 3.6 percent in the previous session. The contract is on track to fall nearly 5.5 percent for the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 85 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $47.06. The contract fell 3.8 percent in the previous session and prices are down around 5 percent so far this week. Gold rose on Friday, supported by a softer dollar, and was heading for a third week of gains following a cautious note from the Federal Reserve on interest rates and uncertainty ahead of Britain's vote on European Union membership. The metal, often seen as an insurance in times of financial and economic uncertainty, peaked at $1,315.55 on Thursday, its strongest since August 2014. Gold then slid 1 percent as financial markets reacted to the suspension of campaigning for June 23's British referendum after a lawmaker was shot dead. Spot gold rose 0.8 percent to $1,288.33 an ounce. Bullion has risen 1.1 percent so far this week. U.S. gold for August delivery fell 0.5 percent to $1,291.80 an ounce.