Friday August 18th


Stocks poised for their second weekly drop as political turmoil, Barcelona terror attack weigh

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Friday, but equities were staring down their second straight week of losses as investors took note of the negative trading sentiment seen globally. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 5 points while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2 points and 18 points, respectively. For the week, however, the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq were all down about half a percent. In Spain, a manhunt is currently underway as police try to locate the driver of a van who plowed into crowds in one of Barcelona's tourist hotspot areas, which left at least 13 people dead and over 100 injured. The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, the claim has not been verified. Three men have been arrested, while police killed five terror suspects in Cambrils, a nearby town, to thwart an attack which involved explosive belts. Consequently, European stocks were trading in the red, while Asia finished on a negative note in light of U.S. politics and the Barcelona terror attack. Meanwhile, turbulence surrounding President Donald trump's leadership, economic policies and his recent statements on the white supremacist rally in Virginia, continue to weigh on sentiment. Stepping aside from politics, consumer sentiment data is set to come out at 10 a.m. ET. Following on from the Federal Open Market Committee's latest meeting minutes seen earlier this week, investors will be looking for any key comments made by Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who is set to speak at the Dallas County Community College District Conference Day, in Texas. On the commodities front, oil prices posted minor gains on Friday, with U.S. crude hovering around $47.20 per barrel at 7:59 a.m. ET, and Brent standing around $51.09. Asia markets were pressured in Friday trade after investors on Wall Street sold off on growing uncertainty over the Trump administration's ability to follow through on its economic policies. Risk off trade from the U.S. session followed through into the Asian trading day: Japan's Nikkei 225 touched its lowest levels in three months, with the strength in the yen also weighing on shares. The benchmark index fell 1.18 percent, or 232.22 points, to end at 19,470.41. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi declined 0.14 percent, or 3.30 points, to end at 2358.37, off earlier lows. Markets in greater China were in similar shape. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shed 0.91 percent by 3:31 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite bucked the regional trend, finishing 0.81 point above the flatline at 3269.24. Gold was on track for a second consecutive weekly gain on Friday as political uncertainty in the United States and a suspected Islamist attack in Spain boosted bullion's safe-haven appeal. Spot gold rose by 0.57 percent to $1,295.34 an ounce and is on course to extend last week's gain of 2.5 percent. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were up 0.68 percent at $1,301.20 an ounce. Investors ditched riskier assets while the dollar eased, further supporting gold.