Wednesday December 28th


Wall Street expected to open higher with data, oil in focus; Dow’s 20,000 mark eyed

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wednesday, with investors preparing for more economic data, while waiting patiently to see if the Dow Jones hits 20,000. On the data front, Wednesday will see the release of the pending home sales data, due out at 10.00 a.m. ET, as well as mortgage applications, expected at 7.00 a.m. ET. In oil markets, WTI and Brent crude futures posted slight gains on Wednesday, with the market in "wait and see" mode, ahead of the official start—due January 1, 2017—of the supply cut deal, reached by OPEC and non-OPEC members recently, Reuters reported. West Texas Intermediate crude was trading around $54.20, while Brent was slightly higher, around $56.45 per barrel in early trade. Amid the festive trading season, European stocks traded mixed on Wednesday morning, while Asia-Pacific indexes closed mostly higher with the exception of a handful of markets, including South Korea's KOSPI, the Shenzhen Composite and Shanghai Composite. Japan's Nikkei 225 wavered between trading positive and negative, and closed flat at 19,401.72 after data showed that Japanese industrial production rose by 1.5 percent in November from a year earlier, lower than a Reuters forecast for 1.6 percent. Japan's November retail sales painted a rosier picture of Japan's economy, up 1.7 percent year-on-year, compared with a Reuters forecast for growth of 0.7 percent. Mainland Chinese markets were negative, with the Shanghai composite finished down 0.39 percent or 12.12 points at 3,102.54 and the Shenzhen composite ended down 0.373 percent or 7.39 points at 1,972.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng recovered from earlier losses to trade up 0.56 percent by mid-afternoon. In South Korea, the Kospi closed down 0.87 percent or 17.68 points at 2,024.49, as the east Asian country remains mired in a complicated political crisis, involving President Park Geun-hye who has been impeached. U.S. indexes ended their previous session slightly higher, with the Nasdaq composite setting a closing record, however the Dow Jones' has yet to hit the 20,000 mark. No earnings are expected to be released on Wednesday. The U.S. Treasury is holding two bond auctions today. Gold edged lower on Wednesday, retreating from a near two-week high hit in the previous session, weighed down by a stronger dollar and European equities. Spot gold was down 0.04 percent at $1,138.50 an ounce, after hitting its strongest since Dec. 14 at $1,148.98 on Tuesday. U.S. gold futures was up 0.07 percent to $1,139.60 an ounce.