Friday October 18th


Stock set for flat open as Wall Street wraps up the first week of earnings season

U.S. stock index futures were little changed in early trading Friday as investors were set to wrap up the first week of the earnings season. Around 7 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of just 20 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also indicated small changes. Around 70 S&P 500 companies have reported calendar third-quarter earnings this week. Of those companies, more than 80% have posted better-than-expected results, FactSet data shows. Some of the companies posting stronger-than-forecast results this week include Bank of America, Netflix, J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Their results helped push the major indexes higher for the week. The Dow was up 0.8% for the week through Thursday’s close. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were up 0.9% and 1.2%, respectively, for the week. Optimism around Brexit also gave stocks a boost this week. The U.K. and European Union struck a long-awaited draft Brexit deal. British and EU officials reached the agreement after successive days of late-night talks and almost three years of tense discussions. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will now attempt to persuade U.K. lawmakers to back his agreement, ahead of what is expected to be a knife-edge vote on Saturday. Still, concerns over the state of the global economy lingered. Asia Pacific markets mostly declined on Friday by the close, as China released worse-than-expected gross domestic product figures, impacted by Beijing’s protracted trade conflict with the U.S. Mainland Chinese markets tumbled after the release of the data. The Shanghai composite fell 1.32% to close at 2,938.14, while the Shenzhen composite was down 1.17% to 1,616.72, and the Shenzhen component declined 1.16% to 9,533.50. Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 0.72% in the afternoon. Over in Japan, the Nikkei 225 bucked the trend to add 0.18% to 22,492.68, while South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.83% to close at 2,060.69. Oil prices rose slightly on Friday as concern over an economic slowdown in China, the world’s biggest oil consumer, was countered by bullish signals from both the Chinese and U.S. refining sectors. Erasing earlier losses, global benchmark Brent crude oil futures rose 35 cents to $60.26 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures edged up by 66 cents, or 1.2%, to $54.57. Both contracts were on track for weekly declines of less than 1%. Gold prices dipped on Friday as investors booked profit after the European Union forged a new Brexit deal with Britain, though a floor was kept under prices by uncertainties over trade negotiations and the global economy. Spot gold edged down by 0.1% to $1,490.05 an ounce at 0722 GMT. U.S. gold futures fell 0.4% to $1,493.