Friday December 29th


Wall Street set for a positive open as 2017 draws to a close

U.S. stocks futures were mixed to higher ahead of Friday's open, as investors get ready for the start of a new trading year. Trading has been lighter than usual this week as investors get ready for the new year. Consequently, key trends and potential market-moving events will be of key importance to market-watchers from now on, as the final day of trading looms. In the penultimate session of the year Thursday, U.S. stocks finished slightly higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average securing another record close. Meantime in markets overseas, Asia posted mild gains on Friday while European markets fluctuated in early trade. The Nikkei 225 was in negative territory, slipping 0.08 percent to close at 22,764.94, as the dollar slipped further against the yen. Still, the index saw gains of some 19 percent for the year. Greater China markets traded slightly higher on Friday. The Hang Seng Index edged up 0.26 percent by 3:07 p.m. HK/SIN, having risen more than 35 percent year-to-date. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.35 percent to close at 3,307.97, with gains seen in banking stocks and property names. The Shenzhen Composite closed 0.34 percent higher at 1,899.34. South Korean markets were closed on Friday, with trade to resume only after the New Year's weekend. The benchmark Kospi index had increased 21.63 percent this year. Switching focus back to the States, with little data or earnings on the trading day's horizon, investors are likely to be paying close attention to the moves in markets such as commodities and bitcoin, as each market continues to show wild swings. Looking to energy, oil prices rose on Friday, with U.S. crude trading above $60, hitting highs seen last in mid-2015, as a decline in U.S. production and commercial crude inventories lifted sentiment. In individual stock news, Apple issued a statement to consumers apologizing over the handling of its battery issue, after it admitted to slowing down older iPhones. In the letter, the tech giant said it would be making a number of changes for customers "to recognize their loyalty" and try to regain the trust of anybody who could have doubted Apple's intentions. Meantime, President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that he was "very disappointed", after a report indicated that China could have run afoul of international sanctions, by providing oil to North Korea. China has denied the accusations. Gold hit a one-month high on Friday and stayed on track for its biggest annual rise since 2010 as a wilting dollar, political tensions and receding concerns over the impact of U.S. interest rate hikes fed into its rally. The dollar, in which gold is priced, is sliding towards its worst year since 2003, hurt by tensions over North Korea, the Russian scandal surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign, and persistently low U.S. inflation. The dollar's drop to three-month lows versus a basket of currencies on Friday lifted gold to its highest level since late November, within a few dollars of $1,300 an ounce. Spot gold was up 0.15 percent at $1,296.69 an ounce, off a peak of $1,297.58. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up 0.12 percent at $1,298.80 an ounce.