Wednesday June 22nd


Futures near flatline as Yellen, Brexit vote eyed

U.S. stock-index futures were indicating a mildly higher start for stocks as investors started the countdown to Thursday's U.K. referendum on EU membership and awaited further testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Yellen will appear before politicians for a second day Wednesday, testifying in front of the House Committee on Financial Services from 10 a.m. ET. That's after the Fed chair testified to a Senate panel Tuesday, where she warned that a Brexit could usher in an era of uncertainty and suggested that an interest rate hike may wait for a boost in hiring numbers. Investors are now counting down the hours to Britain's referendum, with polls set to open Thursday morning. The International Monetary Fund is also set to hold a press conference on the state of the U.S. economy following their consultation mission, at 9:30 a.m. ET. Major company earnings today include Red Hat, which is expected to release earnings results after the bell at approximately 4:05 p.m. ET, followed by Bed Bath & Beyond at 4:15 p.m. ET. apanese shares lost ground on Wednesday in a mixed Asian trading session, as investors counted down to the upcoming British vote that will decide whether the U.K. remains in the European Union. The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 103.39 points, or 0.64 percent, at 16,065.72, as stocks were under pressure from a relatively stronger yen. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi finished up 9.88 points, or 0.5 percent, at 1,992.58. Australia's ASX 200 finished near flat at 5,270.94. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.69 percent as of 3:32 p.m. HK/SIN. Chinese mainland markets closed higher, with the Shanghai composite adding 27.21 points, or 0.95 percent, to 2,905.77 and the Shenzhen composite up by 31.67 points, or 1.67 percent, at 1,921.38. Oil rose further above $50 a barrel on Wednesday after an industry report showed a large drop in U.S. crude inventories, with analysts expecting volatile trading ahead of Britain's referendum on EU membership. U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said on Tuesday, far more than analysts expected. Official stocks data is due later on Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Energy. Brent crude was up 20 cents at $50.82 a barrel. U.S. crude climbed 25 cents to $50.10, marking its first rise above $50 since June 10. Gold eased to a two-week low on Wednesday after its biggest one-day drop in four weeks, as growing expectations that Britain will vote to remain in the European Union reduced risk aversion and lent a steadier tone to stocks. The metal fell nearly 2 percent on Tuesday after two opinion polls suggested it was increasingly likely that voters would opt on Thursday to stay in the EU. Fears of a Leave vote had sent gold to a near two-year high last week. Spot gold was flat near $1,268 an ounce after hitting its lowest level in two weeks. U.S. gold futures for August delivery were down $1.30 an ounce at $1,271.20.