Thursday June 8th


Futures hold higher after ECB leaves rates unchanged; UK election, Comey testimony eyed

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open Thursday, as investors braced themselves for news out of a slew of economic and political events. Dow futures rose nearly 10 points, while S&P and Nasdaq futures climbed 2 points and 14 points, respectively. The European Central Bank's governing council kept interest rates unchanged, as was widely expected. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter that the central bank has held rates steady at 0.00 percent. In a statement, the council said it is ready to increase its quantitative easing program if needed. ECB President Mario Draghi is scheduled to speak at about 8:30 a.m. ET. U.S. investors will also be paying close attention to a testimony by former FBI Director James Comey, who is set to speak and answer questions in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee; marking the first time the former director will speak publically since being dismissed by President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, the committee released Comey's full opening remarks. In the written statement, Comey said he understood Trump to be asking him to "drop" the probe into Flynn when they spoke in February. "[Trump] then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,'" Comey will say of an Oval Office meeting in February. Meanwhile in Europe, U.K. citizens are heading to polling stations Thursday, to vote in the British general election which was called earlier this year. Investors will keeping a close eye on moves in sterling over the next two days, to see how the currency reacts to the election outcome. On the data front, jobless claims fell by 10,000 last week to 245,000. Meanwhile, oil futures slipped on Thursday, adding to losses seen in the previous session. On Wednesday, U.S. inventories rose for the first time in 10 weeks, resuscitating concerns of a glut in the market. At 8:31 a.m. ET on Thursday, U.S. crude was trading lower, at $45.40 a barrel, while Brent hovered around $47.77 a barrel. In Europe, bourses were posting slight gains in morning trade, while Asia-Pacific markets finished mostly higher. The Kospi gained 0.15 percent or 3.43 points to finish the session at 2,363.57. Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 reversed earlier losses to close higher by 0.17 percent or 9.428 points at 5,676.6. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down by 0.38 percent or 75.36 points at 19,909.26. Stocks in greater China were in the green. The Hang Seng Index was up by 0.32 percent at 3:02 p.m. HK/SIN. The Shanghai Composite finished higher by 0.34 percent or 10.6082 points at 3,150.9331 and the Shenzhen Composite climbed 0.126 percent or 2.3239 points to close at 1,852.8570. Gold slipped on Thursday as investors digested the European Central Bank's decision to leave rates unchanged. Spot gold was falling at $1,283.38 per ounce. U.S. gold futures for August delivery dipped 0.6 percent to $1,285.50 an ounce.