Friday October 20th


Futures point to a positive open after Senate passes budget; Yellen speech in focus

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a strong positive open Friday, after the GOP moved closer to reaching tax reform. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 77 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 5.25 points and 14 points, respectively. The Senate approved a $4 trillion budget measure Thursday, taking a crucial step toward Republicans' goal of passing a tax plan this year. The chamber approved the budget resolution by a 51-49 vote. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the only GOP senator to vote against it. Tax reform expectations had increased recently, helping lift U.S. stocks to record highs. Wall Street also paid attention to corporate earnings as Baker Hughes, General Electric and Honeywell all reported quarterly results. Dow-component GE reported weaker-than-expected earnings and cut its 2017 earnings guidance, sending its stock down 7 percent in the premarket. Elsewhere, existing home sales figures for September are set to be published at 10 a.m. ET. In the central bank sphere, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester is expected to participate in a panel discussion on global regulatory structure at "The Future of Global Finance: Populism, Technology and Regulation" conference in New York. However, the main Fed event that investors will be turning to is that of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech later on in the day. Yellen will be in Washington on Friday, where she is expected to attend the National Economists Club Herbert Stein Memorial Lecture and Annual Dinner and give a speech on monetary policy since the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the question of who will take on the position of chair at the Federal Reserve next year continues to keep investors on edge this trading day. When it comes to news in that area, U.S. President Donald Trump has reportedly completed interviews with all five of the candidates that he's considering for the role, including current Chair Janet Yellen. A decision that could potentially even be announced next week, Reuters reported Thursday citing a source familiar with the matter. On the commodities front, oil prices fluctuated in morning trade, with U.S. crude trading lower at $50.89 around 8:07 a.m. ET, while Brent dipped to trade around $56.93 per barrel. In markets news, the Dow Jones industrial average managed to spin out a record close in the previous trading session, erasing sharp losses seen earlier on in trade; with the S&P 500 also managing to secure a record close Thursday. Overseas, European stocks were posting gains, while markets in Asia closed mostly higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 held onto slight gains to close up 0.04 percent, or 9.12 points, at 21,457.64. The benchmark index has now closed higher for 14 straight sessions. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi edged up 0.67 percent to close at 2,489.54. The Hang Seng Index climbed 1.06 percent by 3:01 p.m. HK/SIN, recouping some losses after closing nearly 2 percent down on Thursday. Mainland markets gained after closing moderately lower in the previous session: The Shanghai Composite was added 0.28 percent to close at 3,379.4990 and the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.805 percent to end at 1,999.6776. Gold prices fell on Friday after the U.S. Senate approved a budget blueprint that paves the way for tax cuts, causing European stocks, the dollar and bond yields to rise as investors betting on faster economic growth bought riskier assets. Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,284.47 an ounce, taking losses this week to 1.6 percent. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were 0.3 percent lower at $1,285.80 an ounce.