By MARKDECAMBRE & ANDREARIQUIER
Nasdaq Composite eyes a 10th straight record
U.S. stock futures inched higher Thursday morning, with markets expected to face thin holiday trading volumes in the first session after Christmas and with a number of global markets remaining closed.
How are benchmarks performing?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.12% were up 33 points, or 0.1%, at 28,541, those for the S&P 500 ESH20, +0.14% climbed 4.80 points, or 0.2%, to reach 3,230.50, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.11% advanced 10 points, or 0.1%, to 8.740, with the technology-heavy index on track to notch a 10th straight record and an 11th consecutive positive close.
Most major markets were closed on Wednesday for Christmas.
On Tuesday, the Dow DJIA, -0.13% retreated 36 points, or 0.1%, to end at around 28,515.45. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.02% shed 1 point to finish around 3,223.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.08% rose 7 points, or 0.1%, to end at 8,952.88.
What’s driving the market?
Market participants are fixated on the prospects of a completing a phase-one U.S.-China trade deal, with only a few short sessions remaining in 2019. Over the past few days, markets have pegged optimism to comments from President Donald Trump and Chinese officials who have signaled that such an agreement is in the works.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said officials from Beijing and Washington were in “close communication about detailed arrangements for the deal’s signing and other follow-up work.”
Those comments follow remarks from President Trump, who on Christmas Eve said that the “deal is done, it’s just being translated right now.” Trump also said that he and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, would hold a signing ceremony for the partial trade resolution in January. “We’ll be having a quicker signing because we want to get it done.”
Meanwhile, some investors also drew optimism headed into Thursday trade from a report from Mastercard indicating that total U.S. retail sales for Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve rose 3.4% from a year earlier. Online shopping registered a record 14.6% of total sales, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse.
“Good news on the trade front as Trump said the trade deal will be signed at the White House coupled with 2019 holiday retail sales rising 3.4% better than last year, will likely keep the Bulls Fully in charge,” wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
Looking ahead, investors are watching for a report on employment, with weekly jobless claims due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. A report on the Fed’s balance sheet and money supply are due at 4:30 p.m.
What stocks are in focus?
Shares of two pharmaceutical companies tumbled in pre-market trading: Spectrum Pharma SPPI, -33.94% shares lost about 5%, while shares of Spring Bank SBPH, -1.63% tumbled nearly 20%, then recovered slightly, after the company halted a hepatitis B trial.
Interim holiday sales rose 1% to 3% compared to last year, luxury retailer Tiffany TIF, +0.05% said Thursday. The company said it was “happy to see sales growth in the Americas.”
How are other markets trading?
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.46% ticked up one basis point to 1.91%.
Oil prices moved higher; West Texas Intermediate Crude CL00, +0.18% rose 17 cents or 0.3% to $61.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold prices also edged higher, with the price of an ounce of gold GCG20, +0.45% rising $.490, or 0.3%.
The U.S. dollar DXY, +0.03% edged higher relative to a basket of its rivals, with the ICE Dollar index, a measure of the buck against six rival currencies, up fractionally.
In Asia overnight, stocks closed mixed; with the China CSI TKTKTK, Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.60% up 0.6% or 142 points, and Hong Kong’s Hang SengTKTKTKTK flat.
European stock markets were closed.