Friday March 29th


Dow futures rise 100 points amid hopes of progress in US-China trade talks

U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher Friday morning, amid renewed optimism on the progress of trade talks between Washington and Beijing. At around 7 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 107 points, indicating a gain of more than 114 points. Futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also rose. Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments, after U.S. officials said China had made proposals on a range of issues that go further than it has before — including on forced technology transfer. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday he had a "productive working dinner" with Chinese trade officials the previous night in Beijing, as both sides restart negotiations with the hope of bringing an end to their protracted trade dispute. The world's two largest economies 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. Chinese stocks surged overnight. The Shanghai Composite gained 3.2 percent overnight to lead stock indexes in the region and Shenzhen component surged 3.77 percent to 9,906.86. The Shenzhen composite bounced 3.38 percent higher to finish at 1,695.13. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.94 percent higher by the afternoon. Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.82 percent to close at 21,205.81, while the Topix index added 0.56 percent to finish at 1,591.64. In South Korea, the Kospi was 0.59 percent higher to close at 2,140.67. On the data front, U.S. personal incomes rose 0.2% in February after falling in the month before, the Commerce Department said Friday. The report excluded consumer spending and inflation data for February, due to the lingering effects of the government shutdown. The PCE index for January, however, showed prices rising just 0.1%, bringing the annual inflation rate down to 1.4% from 1.8%, the lowest level since 2016 and well below the Fed’s 2% target. Chicago PMI and consumer sentiment for March and new home sales for February will follow later in the session. Meanwhile, investors are also likely to closely monitor a flurry of speeches from policymakers at the U.S. central bank. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles and New York Fed President John Williams are all set to comment on the U.S. economy at separate events on Friday. In corporate news, CarMax and Blackberry are both set to report their latest quarterly results before the opening bell. Shares of Wells Fargo rose more than 2 percent on news that CEO Tim Sloan was retiring from his post. Sloan became the company's chief executive in October 2016 after news that employees created millions of fake accounts to meet sales quotas. Oil prices rose on Friday amid the ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, putting crude markets on track for their biggest quarterly rise since 2009. The rebound comes after a swift and punishing collapse in oil prices during the final quarter of 2018. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were up $1.15, or 1.9 percent, at $60.45 per barrel around 8:45 a.m. ET (1245 GMT). WTI futures were set to rise for a fourth straight week and were on track to rise 33 percent in the first three months of the year. Gold steadied on Friday, on track for its biggest monthly fall since August as a stronger dollar and equities pressured the market, while palladium pared sharp losses from the previous three sessions. Spot gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,297.36 per ounce. It declined on Thursday by about 1.5 percent, the most in more than seven months and breaking below key support around $1,300. Gold was also headed for a second consecutive monthly fall, losing about 1.5 percent. U.S. gold futures were up 0.6 percent on the day, at $1,302.60 an ounce.