Thursday December 28th


Wall Street set for a positive open amid thin holiday trade

U.S. stocks futures are posting modest gains ahead of Thursday's open, as investors turn their attention to what the next year will bring for markets. This week, markets are opening back up following the festive holiday break although trading remains thin. U.S. stocks finished Wednesday slightly higher, lifted by gains seen in the real estate and utilities sectors. In economic news Thursday, weekly jobless claims came in at 245,000 versus the 240,000 estimate. After President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill into law last Friday, which aims to cut tax rates for both individuals and companies, it will be of key importance as to whether more economic news will boost markets. The energy market will also be at the front of investors' minds after crude futures hit a more than two-year high earlier this week. In today's session, oil prices posted mild gains on the back of solid data out of China. Elsewhere, copper has hit a fresh four-year peak. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.66 a barrel up 2 cents or 0.03 percent from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel earlier this week, the first time since June 2015. WTI received support from a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showing a 6 million barrel drop in crude oil inventories to 432.8 million. Brent crude futures were at $66.41 a barrel, up 3 cents or 0.05 percent. Brent broke through $67 earlier this week, the first time since May 2015 this week. Investors will also be paying attention to the latest in bitcoin, as the cryptocurrency continues to see volatile price moves. In individual stock news, retailers will be of key importance, as investors await news as to how the industry performed during the festive period. Meantime, Apple and Amazon are reportedly in licensing talks with Riyadh, when it comes to investing in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported citing two sources. No earnings are set to be released. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Thursday following a rally in oil and copper prices this week. Trade was thin ahead of the long New Year's weekend. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed lower by 0.56 percent at 22,783.98 as the dollar lost ground against the yen. Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi bounced 1.26 percent to end at 2,467.49, outpacing other indexes in the region. Greater China markets also trended higher. The Hang Seng Index tacked on 0.73 percent by 3:34 p.m. HK/SIN while mainland markets pared losses seen on Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.65 percent to close at 3,297.21 and the Shenzhen Composite advanced 0.45 percent to end at 1,887.34. Gold hit a one-month high on Thursday, rallying for a ninth straight session as a retreat in the dollar on the back of lower U.S. bond yields drove gains in commodities priced in the currency. The metal is also benefiting from technically driven momentum after closing above its 100-day moving average on Wednesday for the first time since late November, analysts said. Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,291.74 an ounce, having earlier touched its highest since Nov. 29 at $1,293.25 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up 0.22 percent an ounce at $1,294.20.