Thursday May 26th


Futures higher as data, Fed speeches eyed

U.S. stock index futures were broadly higher on Thursday morning as traders looked to the release of several pieces of data and earnings. On the data front, initial claims and durable goods orders are set to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, while pending home sales are due to come out at 10:00 a.m. St. Louis Fed president James Bullard was due to speak in Singapore early on Thursday morning, while Fed governor Jerome Powell will speak in Washington D.C. at 12:15 p.m. ET. On the earnings front Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Abercrombie & Fitch and Chico's FAS are set to report before the bell. GameStop and Splunk are set to report after the bell. In Europe, the pan European Stoxx 600 Index was up by around 0.01 percent on Thursday morning. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gave up most of its gains to close the session nearly flat, up just 0.09 percent at 16,772.46, while across the Korean Strait, the Kospi erased gains to finish down 3.45 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,957.06. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended up 0.14 percent, or 29.06 points, at 20,397.11. Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 finished up 15.59 points, or 0.29 percent, at 5,388.10, with the energy sub-index advancing 1.96 percent. Mainland Chinese markets turned positive in the final hour of trade, with the Shanghai composite retracing nearly 1 percent losses to close up 0.27 percent, or 7.49 points, at 2822.57, while the Shenzhen composite added 0.48 percent, or 8.70 points, to end at 1808.93. Brent oil futures climbed above $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months on signs that a global supply glut is easing, one week ahead of an OPEC meeting. Oil bulls have been eyeing the $50 target in recent weeks and a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude oil inventories, indicating buyers are starting to mop up spare supply, has fuelled buying. U.S. government data showed on Wednesday that crude stocks fell by 4.2 million barrels in the week ended May 20, much steeper than the 2.5 million barrels forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and the biggest drop in seven weeks. Investors took this as a strong buying signal, pushing global benchmark Brent to a near seven-month high of $50.26 a barrel. The contract traded at $50.01 a barrel at 0829 GMT, up 27 cents on Wednesday's close. U.S. crude futures were up 19 cents at $49.75 a barrel, after coming within touching distance of $50 at $49.97, also a seven-month high. Gold logged its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than a week as traders covered short positions, a day after the yellow metal slid to a seven-week low on expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve would increase rates as early as June. A rally in oil prices and falling dollar also boosted sentiment, ahead of an extended holiday weekend in the United States, analysts said. Spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,228.95 per ounce at 0648 GMT, its biggest intraday rise since May 17. The metal fell to $1,217.25 on Wednesday, the lowest since April 6. U.S. gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,229.50.