Thursday March 16th


Futures point to higher open on Wall Street

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday morning as traders eyed a big batch of data and continued to digest the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to increase interest rates. Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 241,000. Housing starts rose in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.288 million, more than expected. The Philly Fed Index also topped forecasts at 32.8 for March. Treasury yields edged higher, with the 2-year yield last near 1.33 percent and the 10-year yield around 2.52 percent. Yields dropped sharply on Wednesday after the Fed raised rates but signaled a less aggressive stance going forward than markets expected. The U.S. dollar index traded slightly lower, with the euro around $1.072 and the yen near 113.3. JOLTS data is set to come out at 10:00 a.m. ET. On the earnings front, Dollar General is set to report before the bell, while Adobe Systems is due to report after the bell. In Europe the pan European Stoxx 600 Index was around 0.6 percent higher on Thursday morning. In oil markets, Brent crude traded at around $52.05 a barrel on Thursday morning, up 0.44 percent, while U.S. crude was around $49.10 a barrel, up 0.24 percent. Gold hit a one-week high on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled a cautious stance on interest rate policy this year, pushing the dollar to its lowest in a month. The Fed on Wednesday raised interest rates for the second time in three months, with officials sticking to their outlook for two more rate hikes this year and three more in 2018. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the central bank would stick to a gradual path of interest rate rises even if inflation runs above its 2 percent target. "The lack of signs of further tightening have seen gold prices jump quite drastically post the meeting," said ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes. Spot gold rose 0.66 percent to $1,226.65, the highest since March 7, earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures for April delivery, which ended their trading day on Wednesday before the Fed statement was delivered, were up 2.13 percent at $1,226.30 an ounce.