Thursday February 1st


Dow futures drop 150 points after stocks post their best month since March 2016

U.S. stock index futures fell Thursday, with stocks set to give back some of their strong gains from the previous month. Dow Jones industrial average futures dropped 150 points, while S&P 500 futures declined 9 points. Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 29 points. On Wednesday, the Dow ended January 5.6 percent up, while the S&P 500 rose 5.8 percent in the same period. Both indexes posted their best monthly performances since March 2016. Nonetheless, Wednesday's session was affected by comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve that sent interest rates higher. The Fed decided to leave interest rates unchanged, but said it expects inflation to move "up this year and to stabilize" around its 2 percent target. As a result, bond yields rose during the session as traders grow confident that the Fed might step up the pace of policy normalization. Investors will be looking at fresh data and earnings Thursday. In terms of data, ISM manufacturing new orders and construction spending numbers are both due at 10 a.m. ET, followed by total vehicles sales for January at 3 p.m. ET. In earnings, Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Visa are due to release figures after the bell. On the political front, investors are likely to monitor the U.S. Republican National Committee Winter Meeting 2018. Among Thursday's speakers are President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. Elsewhere, oil prices were moving higher in early European trading hours, boosted by a weaker dollar. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil, were up 72 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $69.61 a barrel by 8:18 a.m. ET (1318 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose 73 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $65.46 a barrel. Asian indexes closed mostly higher on Thursday after stocks in the region sold off earlier this week. Stocks in greater China, however, underperformed, their regional peers. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 1.68 percent, or 387.82 points, to close at 23,486.11, snapping a six-day losing streak. In South Korea, the Kospi edged up 0.08 percent to end at 2,568.54. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng Index gave up early gains to ease 0.4 percent by 3:48 p.m. HK/SIN. Mainland indexes also showed declines: The Shanghai composite fell 0.99 percent to close at 3,446.24, despite gains seen in major banks: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China closed up 2.67 percent. The Shenzhen composite tumbled 3 percent by the end of the day and the blue chip CSI 300 was lower by 0.71 percent. Gold prices fell on Thursday after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but hinted at hikes later this year, and as investors awaited the U.S. nonfarm payroll data for cues on the health of the world's largest economy. Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,339.71 per ounce, as of 0831 GMT. It touched $1,332.30 an ounce in the previous session, its lowest since Jan. 23. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were nearly flat at $1,339.00 per ounce.