Wednesday March 30th


Futures off highs; jobs, Fed in focus

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open with indexes set to continue a rally after a dovish speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday. Dow futures were briefly up 100 points, while S&P and Nasdaq futures were also up sharply. Futures held earlier gains after ADP employment numbers showed 200,000 positions were added in March, matching expectations and just under the 205,000 projected for the government's nonfarm payrolls Friday.The 2-year Treasury yield held steady near 0.79 percent, while the 10-year yield crept higher to around 1.84 percent as of 8:35 a.m. ET. The U.S. dollar index pared losses, off about 0.17 percent, with the euro at $1.13 and the yen at 112.65 yen against the greenback. The dollar is down more than 1 percent for the week so far. Speaking to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, Yellen noted it is appropriate for policymakers to proceed "cautiously." She also said recent readings on the strength of the U.S. economy since the beginning of the year have been mixed. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average closed at their highest levels of the year so far on Tuesday and in positive territory for 2016. Both indexes are now within 4 percent of their 52-week intraday highs. Sentiment remained positive on Wednesday morning with European markets trading higher and most Asian markets advancing overnight. Meanwhile, there's more Fed speak for traders to look out for. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will appear on CNBC's "Squawk Box" at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Evans also appears at 1 p.m. at the Forecasters Club of New York. He is viewed as one of the more dovish members of the central bank. Most Asian markets advanced on Wednesday, following gains in U.S. equities overnight after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen struck a dovish tone in a scheduled speech but Japan's shares retreated as the yen strengthened. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 224.57 points, or 1.31 percent, at 16,878.96. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi ended up 7.23 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,002.14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was higher 437.09 points, or 2.15 percent, at 20,803.39. Chinese markets ended higher, with the Shanghai composite adding 80.47 points, or 2.76 percent, at 3,000.30 and the Shenzhen composite closed up 66.25 points, or 3.6 percent, at 1,906.76. Oil futures edged up on Wednesday to near $40 per barrel as a weaker dollar spurred interest in riskier assets and the International Energy Agency said expectations for a deluge of oil from Iran were misplaced. Brent futures climbed 62 cents to $39.76 a barrel by 8:36 a.m. ET (1236 GMT) after settling down $1.13 in the previous session. U.S. crude rose 69 cents to $38.97 a barrel after ending the previous session down $1.11. Gold fell on Wednesday as investors cashed in some of the previous day's 1.7 percent gains, sparked by the U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's cautious tone on further interest rate hikes. Spot gold was at $1,232.10 an ounce, down 0.76 percent, having risen 1.7 percent on Tuesday after Yellen's speech. U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $2.80 an ounce at $1,234.90.