Wednesday November 22nd


US futures point to a slightly higher open, ahead of data, Fed minutes

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a mixed to slightly higher open Wednesday, as investors geared up for another fresh batch of data and awaited the latest minutes release by the Federal Reserve. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 50 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3.25 points and 9.75 points, respectively. In the previous trading session, U.S. equities finished in positive territory, as a rally in technology stocks helped boost sentiment. Concerns surrounding tax reform in the U.S. have also eased in recent sessions. On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said before a Cabinet meeting that the administration was going to "give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas", according to the Associated Press. Concerns still linger on Wall Street as to whether a deal will come about and finalized by the end of the year, however. Investors will also be keeping an eye on the publication at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday of the latest minutes from the last FOMC meeting, which took place from October 31 to November 1. While the U.S. central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the previous meeting, the Fed did, however, maintain positive language on the current state of the U.S. economy. Investors will likely be poring over the minutes for any indications as to what the Federal Reserve may do in the coming months, and what it currently thinks of the health of the U.S. economy. Initial jobless claims, a tool to measure U.S. layoffs, fell by 13,000 to 239,000 in the week ended Nov. 18. That’s below the 240,000 estimate of economists polled by MarketWatch. A November figure for a consumer-sentiment index is expected to arrive at 10 a.m. Eastern, and a reading of 98.0 is anticipated. Deere reported better-than-expected earnings, sending its stock higher by 3.1 percent in the premarket. Looking to markets in other regions, European stocksrose while markets in Asia ended the session mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 106.67 points, or 0.48 percent, to 22,523.15, while the Topix added 5.95 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,777.08. In South Korea, the Kospi advanced 9.81 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,540.51. Chinese markets finished mixed. The Shanghai composite rose 20.05 points, or 0.59 percent, to 3,430.54, and the Shenzhen composite fell 5.16 points, or 0.26 percent, to 1,982.28. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index broke the 30,000 level in morning trade and closed up 185.42 points, or 0.62 percent, at 30,003.49. Meanwhile, energy prices rose Wednesday as ongoing cuts of piped Canadian crude to the U.S. boosted sentiment. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 91 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $57.74 a barrel by 8:44 a.m. ET (1244 GMT), after touching a session high of $58.05. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 53 cents at $63.10 per barrel. Gold prices rose on Wednesday, helped by a weaker dollar ahead of the release of minutes from the latest U.S. Federal Reserve meeting that could hint at the pace of future interest rate rises. Gold is sensitive to rising rates because they tend to boost the dollar, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, and push up bond yields, reducing the appeal of non-yielding gold. Spot gold was up 0.53 percent at $1,287.20 an ounce at 9:02 a.m. ET, while U.S. gold futures for December delivery were 0.26 percent higher at $1,285 an ounce.