Wednesday February 17th


Futures higher as Street looks to third day of gains

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday as oil rallied on hopes of a deal to freeze production at January levels, and ahead of minutes from the Fed and some other key data releases. Dow futures held more than 100 points higher as of 8:36 a.m. ET as the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 looked to try for their first three-day win streak of the year so far. Oil prices were higher on Wednesday morning as some OPEC oil ministers traveled to Iran to talk about a possible production freeze for global oil producers. Benchmark U.S. WTI light sweet crude traded more than 2.5 percent higher just below $30 a barrel early on Wednesday, while European Brent crude rose 3.1 percent to near $33.20 a barrel. The oil price gyrated Tuesday on supply-cut hopes ahead of a meeting of top exporters in Doha, Qatar. Those hopes were dashed when Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to freeze output at January's levels instead. It could become the first joint OPEC and non-OPEC deal in 15 years, as oil producers seek to boost persistently low oil prices. The energy commodity has declined 70 percent since the summer of 2014. In economic news, U.S. producer prices unexpectedly rose in January as margins for wholesale machinery and equipment increased, but lower energy prices and a strong dollar continue to keep inflation in check, Reuters said. The Labor Department said Wednesday its producer price index edged up 0.1 percent last month after slipping 0.2 percent in December. In the 12 months through January, the PPI decreased 0.2 percent after declining 1.0 percent in December. Ex-food and energy, PPI rose 0.4 percent. Housing starts fell 3.8 percent in January, while building permits fell 0.2 percent. Treasury yields edged higher after the data, while the U.S. dollar index held slightly higher against major world currencies, with the euro at $1.11 and the yen at 114.30 yen against the greenback as of 8:42 a.m. ET. Later in the day, investors will eye minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET. January's industrial production, with output expected to post the first monthly increase since August is out at 9:15 a.m. ET. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is due to speak later on Wednesday. Major earnings include Marriott, NetApp, GoDaddy, Morningstar and Oil States International after the bell. In Europe, markets extended gains on Wednesday as investors look towards the Federal Reserve minutes for its January meeting and oil rebounded. The pan-European traded around 1.8 percent higher. Markets in Australia, Japan, and South Korea closed down after a choppy trading session Wednesday, despite a positive finish in Wall Street overnight. Japan's Nikkei 225 gave up early gains of as much as 1 percent to finish 218.07 points, or 1.36 percent, lower at 15,836.36. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi dropped 4.36 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,883.94, with the healthcare sector losing 4.31 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gave up morning gains to close down 197.51 points, or 1.03 percent, at 18,924.57. Bucking the trend was the Chinese market, where the Shanghai composite retraced losses to close up 31.13 points, or 1.10 percent, at 2,867.69. The Shenzhen composite added 25.94 points, or 1.42 percent, to 1,847.64. Gold retreated from earlier highs on Wednesday as a rise in European share prices pointed to a retreat in the risk aversion that drove prices to one-year highs last week, though uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy kept the metal underpinned. Spot gold was at $1,205.41 an ounce, up 0.45 percent but off an earlier high of $1,212.20. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.15 percent at $1,206.40.