Friday October 14th


US stock futures hold higher after data, earnings

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday, as investors digested a slew of earnings and data releases, while remaining on the lookout for speeches by key Fed officials. The topic of the U.S. Federal Reserve has been put back on the table this week, after the Federal Open Market Committee released its latest set of minutes from its September meeting on Wednesday. While the central bank didn't raise interest rates last month, those members who were in favor on hiking rates believed that waiting too long could push the U.S. into a recession. Following the release, attention will now shift to speeches from key Fed officials. The main speech investors will be looking to is that of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech, due at 1.30 p.m. ET. Yellen will be speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's 60th economic conference, which is titled "The Elusive 'Great' Recovery: Causes and Implications for Future Business Cycle Dynamics". Aside from Yellen, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren spoke with CNBC, saying his views haven't changed, but economic conditions have. On the earnings front, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Financial Services Group and JPMorgan Chase all reported quarterly results, beating on both the top and bottom lines. In economic news, September retail sales came in at 0.6 percent, in line with expectations, while producer prices came in above expectations. Business inventories and consumer sentiment data are also due at 10.00 a.m. ET. Elsewhere, oil has been a major mover and shaker of markets this week, with prices fluctuating between gains and losses as talk around a possible output cut by OPEC shakes up sentiment. On Friday, oil prices pointed higher, boosted by a fall in U.S. fuel inventories. Around 8:35 a.m. ET, U.S. WTI stood around $50.78 per barrel, while Brent hovered around $52.16. European stocks posted gains, while Asia-Pacific indexes closed mostly higher overnight. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed up 82.13 points, or 0.49 percent, at 16,856.37, while the Topix index gained 4.88 points, or 0.36 percent, at 1,347.19. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi gained 7.22 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,022.66. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.98 percent by late-afternoon trade, while Chinese mainland markets reversed some of their earlier losses to close mixed. The benchmark Shanghai composite finished up 2.38 points, or 0.08 percent, at 3,063.73, while the Shenzhen composite fell 2.56 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,046.74. In the previous session, U.S. stocks slashed most of their losses, however closed in the red. Gold edged lower on Friday as stocks firmed and the U.S. dollar rose on expectations the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates by the end of the year. Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,254.20 an ounce. The metal was on track to end the week mostly flat. U.S. gold futures fell 0.2 percent at $1,254.70 an ounce.