Friday November 17th


Futures point to a flat open on Wall Street, amid more earnings, data releases

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a flat open Friday, as investors geared up for the final cluster of economic data and digested more corporate earnings. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 13 points, while S&P 500 futures declined 0.25 points. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7.25 points. On Thursday, U.S. markets roared back into action, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping 187 points by the market close, following strong quarterly results from the likes of Cisco Systems and Wal-Mart. Looking overseas, market action on Friday seems to have pulled back a bit, with European stocks under slight pressure while markets in Asia finished the last day of the week on a relatively mixed to higher note. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent, or 45.68 points, to close at 22,396.80 as broad gains were seen across sectors. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi pared early gains to close 0.03 percent below the flat line at 2,533.99. Greater China markets were mixed. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.62 percent to close at 29,199.04 while mainland markets edged down. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.5 percent to end at 3,382.34 and the Shenzhen Composite fell 2.78 percent to end at 1,954.30. Consequently, following a strong session Thursday, investors are likely to be pausing for breath ahead of Friday's U.S. open. On the earnings front, Foot Locker shares surged more than 20 percent in the premarket after reporting better-than-expected earnings. Gap, Ross Stores and Applied Materials also rose on strong quarterly results. October housing starts surged, rising 13.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million. September estimate was revised to 1.135 million. In domestic news, House Republicans passed a bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals on Thursday, with the tax reform plan receiving 227 votes in favor, beating the 205 votes that voted against. If the bill does end up becoming law, it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent without delay. Tax reform will now look towards the Senate, where the Finance Committee is expected to vote on Friday. Looking to the central bank front, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is expected to speak at the Community Bankers Symposium in Chicago. Finally, oil prices edged higher Friday after a turbulent week for the energy market. Benchmark Brent crude oil was up 65 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $62.01 a barrel by 8:12 a.m. ET (1212 GMT). U.S. light crude rose 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $56 a barrel. Gold rose on Friday on the back of a softer dollar after a report about a U.S. probe requesting more documents linked to possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,283.36 per ounce at 1115 GMT. It is up about 0.5 percent for the week, poised to post a second straight weekly gain. U.S. gold futures for December delivery rose 0.4 percent to $1,283.30.