Thursday April 4th


US stock futures stall amid ongoing US-China trade talks

U.S. stock index futures were little changed early Thursday, as investors remained focused on talks over a trade deal between the world's two largest economies. Around 7 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures indicated the average would open up about 20 points. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also nearly flat. Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, as negotiations between the U.S. and China continue in Washington. Trade officials are attempting to strike an agreement over the core issues so President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping can hold a ceremony to sign a comprehensive deal. Trump is due to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House on Thursday. The U.S. and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of one another's goods over the past year, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. Market participants are likely to closely monitor a flurry of speeches from policymakers at the U.S. central bank on Thursday. New York Fed President John Williams, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are all set to comment on the U.S. economy at separate events. On the data front, the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a more than 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength despite slowing economic growth. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000 for the week ended March 30, the lowest level since early December 1969, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. In corporate news, Constellation Brands, RPM International, and Simply Good Foods are all set to report their latest quarterly figures before the opening bell. Shares of Tesla were tanking in the premarket after the automaker reported first-quarter shipments that missed analysts' expectations. Shares in Asia were mixed on Thursday as investors watched ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and China, with the two economic powerhouses reportedly closer to striking a deal to end a protracted trade dispute. Mainland Chinese markets closed higher, with the Shanghai composite adding 0.94% to 3,246.57 and the Shenzhen component rising about 0.73% to 10,415.80. The Shenzhen composite also gained 0.447% to 1,780.02. Over in Hong Kong, however, the Hang Seng index declined about 0.5%, as of its final hour of trading. The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose fractionally to close at 21,724.95, while the Topix slipped 0.11% to end at 1,620.05. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.15% to close at 2,206.53. Oil prices ticked higher on Thursday, with Brent hovering near the $70 mark despite weekly U.S. oil data showed a surprise build in crude inventories and record production. Brent futures were up 29 cents at $69.60 a barrel around 7:50 a.m. ET (1350 GMT). Brent fell 6 cents on Wednesday, after touching $69.96, highest since Nov. 12, when it last traded above $70. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 23 cents to $62.69 a barrel. The contract dropped 12 cents in the previous session after briefly hitting $62.99, also the highest since November. Global benchmark Brent has gained more then 29 percent this year, while WTI has gained 38 percent. Prices have been underpinned by tightening global supplies and signs of demand picking up. Gold prices rose on Thursday as the U.S. dollar traded close to a one-week low hit in the previous session, while investors awaited progress on the Sino-U.S. trade negotiations. Spot gold climbed by 0.2 percent to $1,292.16 per ounce as of 0756 GMT. U.S. gold futures firmed 0.1 percent at $1,296.80 an ounce.