Thursday January 5th


US futures hold lower after ADP employment report misses

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Thursday amid a slew of economic data. The ADP employment report showed private employers added 153,000 jobs last month, below the expected 170,000. Initial jobless claims came in better than expected, totaling 235,000, while economists expected them to total 260,000. Markit services PMI is out at 9:45 a.m., and ISM non-manufacturing data released at 10:00 a.m. The data deluge comes a day after the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its December meeting. The minutes showed the central bank is concerned that fiscal stimulus could lead to rates rising at a faster pace. On the earnings front, Walgreens Boots Alliance reported a surprise drop in sales, but raised the lower end of its fiscal 2017 earnings forecast. Helen of Troy, PriceSmart and Ruby Tuesday are set to come out after the bell. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx-600 index was little changed on Thursday morning. Japanese shares were under pressure on Thursday after jumping more than 2 percent in its previous session with a stronger yen weighing on exporters. Japan's Nikkei 225 ended 0.37 percent or 73.5 points lower at 19,520.69 as the dollar's momentum waned overnight. Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 1.4 percent by mid-afternoon, after the Nikkei Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for December showed that the private sector economy might be on the cusp of a recovery, with a reading of 50.3, compared to November's PMI at 49.5. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed, with the Shanghai composite closed up 0.21 percent or 6.75 points at 3,165.55 and the Shenzhen composite finished down 0.16 percent or 3.2 points at 2,005.58. Oil prices rose on Thursday after reports Saudi Arabia had started talks with customers about a reduction of up to 7 percent in crude sales in February to support an attempt by OPEC to reduce global supply. Benchmark Brent crude oil was up 55 cents a barrel at $57.01 by 7:17 a.m. ET (1217 GMT). U.S. light crude oil was up 50 cents a barrel at $53.76. Both contracts rose by around 2 percent on Wednesday. Gold touched its highest in four weeks on Thursday as the dollar slipped further from a 14-year peak hit earlier this week. Spot gold rose as much as 1.4 percent to its highest since Dec. 7 at $1,179.36 an ounce and was up 0.9 percent at $1,174.80. U.S. gold futures climbed $9.90 to $1,175.20 an ounce. Spot prices are heading for a near two percent gain for the week so far, having benefited from a halt in the dollar's rise.