Wednesday November 29th

29-11-2017

Futures edge higher as Wall Street tries to build on strong gains

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a higher open Wednesday, as Wall Street looked to build on a strong performance from the previous session. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 75 points, while S&P 500 futures gained 1.75 points. Nasdaq 100 futures traded flat. In the previous session, U.S. stocks closed at record highs, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing 255.93 points higher at 23,836.71. Equities were boosted after news emerged that the Senate took a step towards passing a bill aimed at reforming the U.S. tax code. On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee approved the Senate's tax plan, bringing the upper chamber closer to a floor vote. This vote is slated to occur Thursday. Investors have been eagerly awaiting tax reform since the election in 2016, yet doubts over whether the Republican-led Congress could achieve this before the year is out continues to weigh on sentiment. Stocks briefly pared gains on Tuesday after North Korea fired a missile that landed into the Sea of Japan — an intercontinental ballistic missile that state media said was capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. President Donald Trump responded to the news, stating that they would "take care of it." On the data front, weekly mortgage applications fell 3.1 percent, while the second read on third-quarter GDP showed the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent. The pending homes sales index is due to be released at 10 a.m. ET, while the U.S. central bank's Beige Book is expected at 2 p.m. ET. Speaking of the U.S. Federal Reserve, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to testify on the outlook of the U.S. economy before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.Fed Chair nominee Jerome Powell had a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, where he said that he favors "tailoring" regulations in order to alleviate the burden on smaller banks. Looking to markets in other regions, trade in Europe ticked higher in early trade Tuesday, while markets in Asia finished the session mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 shrugged off the North's latest missile launch and rose 0.49 percent by the end of the day, closing at 22,597.2. Across the Korean Strait, the benchmark Kospi index was little changed, closing lower by 0.05 percent at 2,512.9 as several blue-chip tech names declined. Greater China markets came under some pressure earlier in the day, although mainland indexes ended in positive territory. The Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.13 percent to close at 3,338 as property shares notched gains, with Poly Real Estate rising 10.02 percent. The Shenzhen Composite added 0.04 percent to end at 1,919.06. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was off 0.04 percent at 3:11 p.m. HK/SIN. Oil prices slipped on Wednesday as doubts set in about Russia's willingness to substantially extend a deal to curb output between some of the world's biggest exporters aimed at tackling global oversupply and bolstering prices. Brent crude futures were down 16 cents on the day at $63.45 a barrel by 8:34 a.m. ET (1334 GMT), while U.S. light crude fell 28 cents to $57.71 a barrel. Gold surrendered its initial slim gains on Wednesday as the dollar clawed back some lost ground against the euro, with the metal still stuck in its narrowest monthly range since 2005. Strong gains in stock markets, which have hit a series of record highs in recent months, have reduced investor appetite from gold which is often bought as an alternative to equities and other cyclical assets. Spot gold was down 0.21 percent at $1,290.89 an ounce at 8:17 a.m. ET, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery fell 0.38 percent to $1,294.40 an ounce.