Friday December 22nd


Wall Street set for a slightly upbeat open as investors digest political news

U.S. stocks futures were pointing to a slightly higher open on Friday, as investors digest the latest in U.S. political news. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 25 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3.25 points and 5.5 points, respectively. On Thursday, Wall Street posted strong gains, ending the session on a positive note, after U.S. companies announced that they would spend the tax bill savings on higher wages and new construction. On Wednesday, House Republicans voted to pass a bill which looks to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Meantime, the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to advance a short-term spending bill, in order to fund the U.S. government through until the middle of January. Aside from politics, trade is expected to be slightly lighter than usual as investors get ready for the holiday season. Equities are set for a full day, however other markets such as foreign exchange and live stock options are set to close early. Ahead of this, a whole slew of economic data are set to be published on Friday. First off, personal income and outlays, and the Philadelphia Fed non-manufacturing business outlook survey are due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. This data will be then be followed by new homes sales and consumer sentiment, both due out at 10 a.m. ET. The Kansas City Fed survey will then be released at 11 a.m. ET. In individual stock news, pizza chain Papa John's has announced that its founder John Schnatter is set to step down as chief executive in January, some two months after he publicly criticized the NFL leadership over national anthem protests by football players. Investors will be paying close attention to the stock's moves in trade, along with other fast food chains. No earnings are expected to be published Friday. Asian markets closed mostly higher in the last day of trade before Christmas, tracking moderate gains made on Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.16 percent, or 36.66 points, to close at 22,902.76. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi tacked on 0.44 percent to close at 2,440.54 as blue chips that had fallen in the last session clawed back gains. The Hang Seng Index advanced 0.32 percent by 3:01 p.m. HK/SIN, as tech shares led the index higher. Mainland markets closed mostly flat, with the Shanghai Composite closing lower by 0.08 percent at 3,297.36. The Shenzhen Composite lost 0.18 percent to finish at 1,901.56. Energy stocks were among the top performers on the day, while banks and financials recorded slight declines. Oil prices on Friday dipped away from some of their highest levels since 2015, weighed down by rising U.S. output and the expected January re-opening of the Forties pipeline in the North Sea. Despite this, markets remained well supported by ongoing supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. Market liquidity was drying up on Friday as traders closed positions ahead of the upcoming Christmas and New Year breaks. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.16 a barrel at 0755 GMT, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $64.81 a barrel, down 19 cents, or 0.1 percent. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,268.1 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures gained 0.1 percent to $1,272.0. Silver added 0.6 percent to $16.19 an ounce.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas!!