Thursday November 30th


Futures point to a higher open on Wall Street, as OPEC, tax news takes center stage

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a positive open Thursday, lifted by a strong performance from Wall Street in the previous session, as investors geared up for an all-important OPEC meeting. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 89 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8 points and 22.25 points, respectively. In the previous session, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high as market-watchers bet the U.S. economy's momentum would continue, following positive GDP data. Another area that has boosted markets is recent news that the Senate took a step towards passing a bill aimed at reforming the U.S. tax code on Tuesday. With the Senate Budget Committee having approved the Senate's tax plan, this brings the upper chamber closer to a floor vote, slated to occur Thursday. Investors have been eagerly awaiting tax reform since last year's election, yet doubts over whether the Republican-led Congress could achieve this before the year is out continues to weigh on sentiment. Aside from tax, investors will be paying close attention to data. Jobless claims came in at 238,000, below, expectations, while personal income rose more than expected in October. Chicago PMI data are also due at 9:45 a.m. ET. Elsewhere, OPEC ministers are meeting in Vienna, where the oil cartel is set to discuss whether it will extend production cuts to cover the whole of 2018. Consequently, oil prices will be of key importance to investors during the day's trade, with prices currently trading higher in early trade. Looking to markets in other regions, trade in Europe posted slight gains, while markets in Asia finished the session mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.57 percent, or 127.76 points, to close at 22,724.96 as losses in major tech names were offset by gains in financial stocks. In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index fell 1.45 percent to end at 2,476.37 as tech stocks took a tumble. Mainland China markets also came under pressure, with the Shanghai Composite edging down 0.61 percent to finish at 3,317.58 and the Shenzhen Composite losing 0.9 percent to close at 1,901.86. Tech was also among the worst-performing sectors on the Hang Seng Index, which fell 1.26 percent by 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN, following the slide in U.S. tech stocks. Gold hit a one-week low on Thursday as a stronger dollar, upbeat sentiment on equities and positive U.S. growth data dented the appeal of the safe-haven asset, though the metal was still stuck in its narrowest monthly range in 12 years. Spot gold was down 0.22 percent at $1,280.61 an ounce by 8:10 a.m. ET, having touched its lowest since Nov. 22 at $1,279.40. The price is up 0.9 percent this month, though it has been stuck between $1,265 and $1,300 throug November. U.S. gold futures were down 0.19 percent at $1,283.70.