Thursday November 2nd

2-11-2017

Futures point to a weak open ahead of Apple earnings, Fed Chair decision

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open Thursday, as investors geared up for more earnings and awaited any key news concerning the U.S. central bank. Dow Jones industrial average fell 9 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 2.25 points and 2.75 points, respectively. The major indexes hit intraday record highs in the previous session. On Thursday, a fresh cluster of corporate earnings are set to be released during the day. Alibaba, AutoNation, Ralph Lauren, Teva Pharma, Yum Brands, and Blue Apron all reported quarterly results before the bell. Meanwhile, after the bell, AIG, Apple, Starbucks, Activision Blizzard, CBS, Western Union, El Pollo Loco and Pandora Media are set to report. Looking to data, jobless claims, and productivity and costs data are set to be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. On the central bank front, the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee announced that it was maintaining its interest rates at present levels, leaving the door open for a rate hike to occur at its next meeting in December. The decision by the U.S. central bank was widely expected by markets. Fast forward to today, President Donald Trump is expected to announce his pick for the 2018 head of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Fed Governor Jay Powell has been a recent favorite to take on the position from current Chair Janet Yellen — who's also a key candidate — in early 2018. Over in Europe, the Bank of England raised interest rates for the first time in a decade, lifting them from record lows. The British pound fell sharply against the dollar following the announcement. In politics, investors will also be paying close attention to any news surrounding the economy. In consultation with Trump, House Republicans recently postponed the release of their tax bill by one day until Thursday. "We just had a few finishing touches to do," House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black told CNBC. "We wanted to make sure we had this right when we put it out." Finally, in commodities news, oil prices fell slightly in early trade with U.S. crude trading around $54.28 at 8:11 a.m. ET, while Brent hovered around $60.20 per barrel. Looking to markets, European stocks were under slight pressure during market trade, while markets in Asia closed mostly lower. In the previous session, The Nikkei 225 closed at a fresh 21-year high on strength in automakers and most energy stocks. The index closed up 0.53 percent, or 119.04 points, at 22,539.12. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi slid 0.4 percent to end at 2,546.36. Greater China markets came under pressure. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 0.1 percent by 3:09 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite edged down 0.38 percent to finish the session at 3,383.14 and the Shenzhen Composite fell 0.672 percent to end at 1,989.98. Gold prices inched up on Thursday, helped by a weaker dollar as investors waited for the nomination of a new U.S. Federal Reserve chair and the unveiling of U.S. tax reform legislation later in the day. Spot gold was up 0.09 percent at $1,275.91 an ounce at 8:35 a.m. ET after touching $1,281.43, the highest since Oct. 26. U.S. gold futures fell 0.1 percent at $1,276 an ounce.