Thursday November 21st


US futures point to slightly lower open

U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Thursday morning. At around 6:15 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a negative open of more than 15 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were both seen marginally lower. Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments after a report from the Wall Street Journal suggested China had invited American negotiators to Beijing for a fresh round of trade talks. During a phone call thought to have been made late last week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing to sit down for further negotiations. It was not clear whether U.S. negotiators had accepted Liu’s invitation. However, the Wall Street Journal’s report said that U.S. trade officials were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Thursday morning. The report comes after U.S. legislation on Hong Kong had threatened to derail trade discussions between the world’s two largest economies. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills intended to support protestors in Hong Kong. It prompted Beijing to accuse the U.S. of interfering in domestic affairs. The U.S. and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. On the data front, the latest weekly jobless claims and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing figures for November will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Existing home sales for October will follow slightly later in the session. Market participants are likely to closely monitor speeches from policymakers at the U.S. central bank on Thursday. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari are both expected to comment on the world’s largest economy. In corporate news, Macy’s, Berry Global, and BJ’s Wholesale will report earnings before the opening bell. Gap, Intuit, and Splunk are among some of the companies poised to release their latest quarterly results after market close. Asia stocks declined on Thursday following a report that an anticipated “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China may not be inked by the end of 2019. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.48% to close at 23,038.58. The Topix index was 0.1% lower to end its trading day at 1,689.38. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.35% to close at 2,096.60. Mainland Chinese stocks declined also ended their trading day lower, with the Shanghai composite down 0.25% to around 2,903.64 and the Shenzhen component shedding 0.35% to 9,774.44. The Shenzhen composite also slipped 0.24% to approximately 1,631.24. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined about 1.5%, as of its final hour of trading. Oil prices edged lower on Thursday as fresh tensions between the United States and China over protests in Hong Kong fueled concern that a deal to end a trade war between the world’s top two economies may be further delayed. Brent crude fell 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $62.24 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude was down 13 cents, or 0.2%, at $56.88. Both benchmarks had risen strongly on Wednesday due to bullish data on U.S. crude inventories. Gold prices held steady on Thursday, supported by concerns that U.S. legislation on Hong Kong could increase tensions between the United States and China and delay an interim trade deal. Spot gold was little changed at $1,470.75 per ounce by 0746 GMT. U.S. gold futures were down 0.2% to $1,471.00.