Thursday January 18th


US futures pause for breath as earnings take the spotlight

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lackluster open on Thursday, following a strong performance seen on Wall Street during the previous session. Dow Jones industrial average futures traded 13 points higher, while S&P 500 futures gained 0.5 points. Nasdaq 100 futures declined 11 points. On Wednesday, U.S. markets bounced back following a sharp reversal seen Tuesday. A slew of positive corporate earnings reports helped the Dow Jones industrial average close above 26,000 for the first time, having risen more than 300 points by the close. The Nasdaq composite and S&P 500 also finished in positive territory. U.S. earnings season has started off on a strong note so far, with Bank of America and U.S. Bancorp both posting better-than-expected results Wednesday. Corporate reports are set to stir up sentiment again on Thursday. American Express and IBM are expected to report after the bell. Morgan Stanley reported better-than-expected results, while Bank of NY Mellon and M&T Bank posted mixed results. Data is expected to be just as busy, with jobless claims, housing starts and building permits, and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing business outlook survey all due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. President Donald Trump is expected to be in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, where he is set to deliver remarks on the economy and taxes at equipment supplier H&K Equipment. Meantime, concerns over a potential government shutdown are keeping investors on edge. By the end of Friday, Congress has to pass a spending bill, in order to prevent a government shutdown. However, Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over an immigration bill that the Democratic Party wants to pass. Elsewhere, oil prices remained somewhat relatively stable, as threats of rebel attacks in Nigeria helped support price movements. Brent crude, the global benchmark, had slipped 7 cents to $69.31 by 0943 GMT. On Monday it hit $70.37, the highest since December 2014. U.S. crude was up 2 cents at $63.99 and reached its highest since December 2014 on Tuesday. Stock indexes in Asia closed mixed after the Nikkei 225 gave up early gains late in the session. Investors also digested a raft of China data released as mainland markets closed. Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index declined 0.44 percent, or 104.97 points, to close at 23,763.37 as the index turned lower in the afternoon despite earlier recording a fresh 26-year high. In Seoul, the Kospi tacked on 0.02 percent to end at 2,515.81. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.47 percent at 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN after recording its second straight record close in the last session. Mainland stocks closed at their highest levels in two years, according to Reuters. The Shanghai composite advanced 0.91 percent to close at 3,475.91 and the Shenzhen composite added 0.13 percent to end at 1,924.2. Gold edged higher on Thursday after hitting its lowest in nearly a week as the dollar pared gains, but analysts said bullion was vulnerable to more losses. Spot gold crept up 0.04 percent at $1,328.12 per ounce at 8:05 a.m. ET. U.S. gold futures for February delivery slipped 0.8 percent to $1,328.50 per ounce. In the previous session, spot gold fell 0.8 percent, posting its worst one-day percentage decline since Dec. 7 as the dollar bounced from three-year lows.