Thursday December 17th


Futures higher amid data; rate hike in focus

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Thursday as traders reacted to the Federal Reserve's decision to hike rates for the first time in nine years. The Fed had convinced markets that it would raise rates by a quarter point at its December meeting and continue to deliver a relatively dovish message about the future path of rate hikes. It did both on Wednesday afternoon. Fed Chair Janet Yellen stressed continued focus on economic progress, including inflation, which is lagging the Fed's 2 percent target. As such, the focus for markets remains economic data. Initial claims came in at 271,000. The Philly Fed index for December was minus 5.9, the lowest of the year after a positive 1.9 print in November. The U.S. current account deficit in the third quarter increased 11.7 percent to $124.1 billion, its highest level in nearly seven years, as a strong dollar weighed on exports and the profits of multinational corporations, the Commerce Department said. Treasury yields held a touch lower, while the U.S. dollar index continued to trade about 1 percent higher against major world currencies. The euro was near $1.08 as of 8:37 a.m., ET. Leading indicators are scheduled for release at 10:00 a.m. On the earnings front, Accenture, General Mills, Rite Aid and Winnebago are among companies that reported before the bell. Red Hat is among companies set to report after the bell. In oil markets, Brent crude traded near $37.60 a barrel, up more than 1 percent, while U.S. crude was down about 0.4 percent near $35.40 a barrel, as of 8:38 a.m. In Asia the Shanghai Composite closed 1.83 percent higher while Japan's Nikkei finished 1.59 percent higher. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index was around 2 percent higher Thursday morning. Gold fell on Thursday, as the dollar surged after the Federal Reserve increased U.S. interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade and hinted at more increases in 2016. The U.S. central bank raised the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday. The move sent the dollar up one percent to a two-week high against a basket of leading currencies, while spot gold dipped 0.53 percent to $1,066.80 an ounce, just $20 above a near-six-year low hit earlier this month. A stronger U.S. currency makes gold more expensive for foreign holders.