Thursday March 7th


Stock futures turn positive as ECB announces new funding to help European banks

U.S. stock index futures erased earlier losses on Thursday after the European Central Bank announced a new round of stimulus to help banks in the region with their lending activities. At 8:10 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 23 points after slipping nearly 100 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also up slightly. The ECB said its new targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-III) stimulus program will start in September and run through March 2021. TLTROs are loans provided by the ECB to European banks at a low rate, making it easier for them to lend money to consumers, which in turn can help stimulate the economy. This is the third stimulus injection from the ECB since 2014. Wall Street ended Wednesday's session lower, posting its third consecutive decline. Investors are eager to know details from trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. Data out on Wednesday showed that the U.S. trade deficit remains a problem. President Donald Trump has imposed a series of tariffs on countries like China, in an attempt to bring down his country's trade deficit. However, Wednesday's data showed that trade deficit in the U.S. hit a 10-year high in December. Shares in Asia were mixed on Thursday following a third consecutive day of losses on Wall Street as investors sought developments on the state of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Meanwhile, U.S. tensions with China reached new heights as Chinese tech giant Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. on Thursday. Mainland China shares were mixed on the day. The Shanghai composite rose 0.14 percent to close at 3,106.42 and the Shenzhen composite added 0.489 percent to finish its trading day at 1,668.53. The Shenzhen component, on the other hand, declined 0.231 percent to close at 9,678.11. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined around 0.8 percent in its final hour of trading. Elsewhere in the region, Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.65 percent to close at 21,456.01. In South Korea, the Kospi declined 0.45 percent to close at 2,165.79. Oil prices crept up on Thursday amid ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against exporters Venezuela and Iran, but gains were capped by record U.S. crude output and rising commercial fuel inventories. Brent crude futures were at $66.12 per barrel at 0757 GMT, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.24 per barrel, up 2 cents. Gold prices steadied on Thursday ahead of a European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting expected to present a cut in economic growth forecasts, with investors also awaiting U.S. jobs data. Spot gold was flat at $1,285.94 an ounce at 1038 GMT, trading close to a more than five-week low hit this week. U.S. gold futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,286.50.