Thursday December 26th


Stocks set to open slightly higher as year-end rally continues

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Thursday morning, adding to a record-setting year-end rally. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 36 points, implying a 31-point gain at the open. Futures on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were also trading higher. Stocks have been piling up record highs as the market wraps up 2019. The S&P 500 has risen 2.6% this month and 8.2% this quarter, bring the year-to-date gains to 28.6%. The benchmark has a chance at scoring a historic year: If it finishes the year up more than 29.6%, it would be the best annual performance in 22 years. In a shortened Christmas Eve session Tuesday, the S&P 500 finished flat and Nasdaq rose to another record. The tech-heavy index also posted its ninth consecutive record close for the first time since 1998. Markets in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong remained closed on Thursday for the holiday. U.S. weekly jobless claims decreased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Dec. 21, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The number is slightly higher than estimates of 220,000, according to economists polled by Dow Jones. Investors have been adding more risk after the U.S. and China earlier this month announced they have reached a phase one trade agreement. The two countries are in the process of translating the deal, aiming to sign it in early January. In a regular press briefing on Thursday, Chinese commerce ministry spokesman said China is in close touch with the U.S. on signing the initial trade pact. President Donald Trump said Tuesday the deal is “getting done,” adding there will be a signing ceremony with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Stocks typically get a boost this time of the year during the so-called Santa Claus rally period. In the final five trading days of the year and the first two tradings days of the new year, the S&P 500 has posted a 1.3% gain on average since 1950, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. The period began on Tuesday this year. Stocks in Asia edged higher in lackluster trade on Thursday a day after Christmas, as markets in Australia and Hong Kong remained closed for the holiday. Mainland Chinese stocks rose on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.85% to around 3,007.35 and the Shenzhen component adding 0.72% to 10,303.72. The Shenzhen composite also gained 0.721% to about 1,709.45. The Nikkei 225 in Japan was closed 0.6% higher at 23,924.92 while the Topix index added 0.57% to finish the trading day at 1,731.20. South Korea’s Kospi also gained, ending 0.36% higher at 2,197.93. Oil rose further above $67 a barrel to its highest in over three months on Thursday, buoyed by a report showing lower U.S. crude inventories, by hopes of an end to the China-U.S. trade dispute and OPEC-led efforts to constrain supply. The American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry group, said late on Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks fell by 7.9 million barrels last week, much more than the decline forecast by analysts. Brent crude, the global benchmark, reached $67.50 a barrel, the highest since Sept. 17, before paring gains to rise 10 cents to trade at $67.30 per barrel . U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 4 cents to $61.15. Gold prices rose above the key $1,500 mark to a near two-month peak on Thursday, as uncertainty around the signing of the ‘phase one’ trade deal between the United States and China boosted safe-haven flows into the metal. Spot gold rose 0.43% to $1,505.10 per ounce. Prices hit their highest since Nov. 5 earlier in the session at $1,503.87. U.S. gold futures were up 0.2% to $1,507.40 per ounce.