Thursday November 16th


Futures point to a higher open on Wall Street ahead of tax bill vote

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a higher open Thursday, bouncing back from yesterday's weak trading session, ahead of a vote on tax reform. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 76 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.75 points and 30 points, respectively. Markets worldwide showed signs of bouncing back after coming under pressure in the previous trading session. Not only were U.S. futures edging higher, but stocks in Europe were trading in the black, while markets in Asia finished mostly higher. In the previous trading session, U.S. equities closed in negative territory, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 138.19 points by the close, with market-watchers attributing the decline to signs that the current bull market was slowing down. Investors were looking ahead to a House vote on a tax reform bill. GOP leaders remain confident that the bill can be passed this week, despite lingering resistance seen from some Republicans. Wall Street also focused on a big batch of earnings, with Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Viacom all reporting quarterly results. A flood of economic data is also set to be published. Initial jobless claims rose a higher-than-expected 10,000 in the latest week, hitting a six-week high, although they remain at historically low levels. Continuing jobless claims were at their lowest since Dec. 1973. Separately, U.S. import prices rose 0.2% in October. At 9:15 a.m., industrial production is due, followed by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, set to come out at 10 a.m. ET.On the central bank front, a number of U.S. Federal Reserve are set to deliver remarks Thursday. Asian equities shrugged off the softer lead from Wall Street to close higher on Thursday as oil eked out slight gains during Asian trade. The Nikkei 225 bounced 1.47 percent, or 322.8 points, to close at 22,351.12 to snap a six-day losing streak as financials, retailers and most tech names rose. South Korea's benchmark Kospi index tacked on 0.63 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. The positive sentiment was also mirrored in greater China markets. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.67 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite reversed early gains to close 0.08 percent lower at 3,399.86 and the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.23 percent to end at 2,010.13. Oil prices steadied on Thursday as traders looked ahead to the OPEC meeting at the end of this month, when producers are expected to extend output cuts, sheltering prices from the impact of rising U.S. crude production and inventories. Brent crude oil was down 14 cents a barrel at $61.73 by 1038 GMT. U.S. light crude fell 7 cents to $55.26. Gold prices were steady on Thursday as investors weighed the impact of an expected rise U.S. interest rates against uncertainty about the direction of U.S. fiscal policy. Gold is highly exposed to interest rates and returns on other assets, as rising rates lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Spot gold was flat at $1,278.10 per ounce at 1100 GMT, after touching a 3-1/2-week high of $1,289.09 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures for December delivery were also barely changed at $1,278.