Wednesday December 27th


Wall Street set for a slightly upbeat open amid thin holiday trade

U.S. stocks futures are pointing to a slightly higher open on Wednesday, as investors gear up for the latest in economic data as the year draws to a close. This week, markets opened back up following the festive holiday break. U.S. stocks finished Tuesday lower, as shares of tech giant Apple tumbled. Shares of the U.S. technology giant posted their worst day since August on Tuesday, following a report from Taiwan's Economic Daily newspaper, which cited unidentified sources, that Apple would be slashing its sales forecast for the iPhone X in the quarter to 30 million units. Consequently, investors will be paying close attention to the stock on Wednesday, as well as the moves in Apple suppliers. Investors stateside will be turning their attention to the data space. At 7 a.m. ET, the routine mortgage applications are due out, followed by consumer confidence and pending home sales, both of which are set to be released at 10 a.m. ET. Meantime at 10:30 a.m. ET, the Dallas Fed's Texas service sector outlook survey is expected to be released.In politics, investors are likely to still be mulling over the latest concerning tax reform, which has boosted market sentiment in recent weeks. On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill in law, capping off a yearlong effort, to cut tax rates for both individuals and companies. Meantime, crude futures hit a more than two-year high on Tuesday, however in today's session, prices came under pressure. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 42 cents to $59.55 a barrel by 8:07 a.m. ET (1307 GMT). WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session. Brent crude futures were down 79 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $66.23 a barrel after breaking through $67 for the first time since May 2015 the previous day. Asian markets closed mixed in Wednesday trade, as Australian and Japanese energy names rose after oil touched a more than two year high overnight. Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi index reversed early losses as blue-chip tech names rebounded. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 hovered around breakeven for most of the session after coming under slight pressure in the previous session. The index nudged higher by 0.08 percent to close at 22,911.21 as trading houses saw gains while major exporters traded mixed, with Toyota closing 0.29 percent higher. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi erased losses seen earlier in the session to finish higher by 0.38 percent at 2,436.67. Greater China markets were in negative territory, with the Hang Seng Index off by 0.12 percent by 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN. Losses in mainland markets steepened in afternoon trade. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.93 percent to end at 3,275.4, with technology, health care and financials among the worst-performing sectors on the day. Gold rose for an eighth straight session on Wednesday as a retreat in the dollar encouraged some investors to buy into the metal, while this year's leading precious metal palladium hit another near 17-year peak. Gold prices have risen more than 3 percent over the last two weeks as the dollar, in which the metal is priced, turned lower. Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,285.35 an ounce at 1030 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery were $2.60 an ounce higher at $1,290.10. No earnings are expected to be published in the U.S.