Wednesday February 20th


Dow futures point to slightly lower open amid US-China trade talks; Fed minutes due

U.S. stock futures were slightly lower on Wednesday, with market participants monitoring the latest round of trade talks between the world's two largest economies. At around 8:30 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures indicated a decline of 37 points at the open. Futures on the S&P 500and Nasdaq 100 were also down. Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, after officials from the U.S. and China launched a new round of negotiations on Tuesday. A follow-up session of higher-level talks is expected later in the week, as both sides look to resolve the long-running trade war before an early March deadline. President Donald Trump has suggested he might extend the deadline for a deal, telling reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday that March 1 was not a "magical date." An extension to the current deadline would prevent an immediate increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent. There are no major economic reports scheduled on Wednesday. However, the Federal Reserve is expected to publish minutes from its January policy-setting meeting. Last month, the U.S. central bank effectively signaled no further rate hikes and hinted at possible tweaks to its balance sheet normalization. Major Asian stocks markets mostly closed higher on Wednesday, after U.S. President Donald Trump hinted once again that a closely watched trade deadline in March may be pushed back. Mainland Chinese markets closed higher on the day after a whirlwind session which saw it swinging between positive and negative territory. The Shanghai composite gained around 0.2 percent to close at 2,761.22 while the Shenzhen component rose 0.386 percent to 8,473.43. The Shenzhen composite also advanced 0.321 percent to close at 1,448.24. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose about 0.9 percent in its final hour of trading. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to close at 21,431.49 while the Topix gained 0.43 percent to end its trading day at 1,613.47. Over in South Korea, the Kospi added 1.09 percent to close at 2,229.76. Oil fell on Wednesday after the U.S. government said shale output would rise to a record next month, denting a rally that sent prices to their highest this year. Brent futures were at $65.99 a barrel, down 46 cents on the day around 8:40 a.m. ET (1340 GMT), still within sight of Monday's high for the year of $66.83. U.S. futures were at $55.70 a barrel, down 39 cents, having touched a 2019 peak of $56.39 earlier. Spot gold hit its highest since April 19, 2018 at $1,346.73 per ounce and was last up 0.19 percent at $1,343.64. U.S. gold futures also rose 0.13 percent to $1,346.60.