Friday September 14th


US stock futures edge higher ahead of economic data cluster

U.S. stock index futures rose ahead of Friday's open as investors awaited several pieces of economic data. Around 7:45 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 48 points, indicating a gain of 48.01 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 pointed to an upbeat open for each respective market. Economic data due Friday includes retail sales and import and export price indexes at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by industrial production figures at 9:15 a.m. ET and consumer sentiment and business inventories data at 10 a.m. ET. U.S. retailers posted the weakest sales in August in six months and only an increase in purchases at gas stations prevented an outright decline, but the soft patch in spending is unlikely to last. Retail sales rose a scant 0.1% in August, the government said Friday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.3% increase. The numbers would have been even worse if not for a 1.7% spike in spending at gas stations. Retail sales omitting car fuel fell 0.1%. One saving grace in an otherwise drab report was a sunnier look at what consumers spent in July. Retail sales were raised to show a 0.7% increase instead of 0.5%. The future of trade relations between the U.S. and China continues to occupy investors' time. Earlier this week, sources told CNBC that Washington was seeking to restart trade discussions with Beijing. However, President Donald Trump said Thursday that there is no pressure to strike a trade deal with China, adding an air of caution to markets. Overseas, markets in Asia and Europe showed a mostly positive picture. Asia markets were largely positive on the final trading day of the week, as stocks of semiconductor-related companies and Apple suppliers jumped. The Nikkei 225 closed 1.2 percent higher at 23,094.67. South Korea's Kospi also ended the trading week higher by 1.4 percent 2,318.25. In Greater China markets, the Hang Seng index extended its gains from yesterday to close higher by 0.97 percent at 27,277.16. Over on the mainland, however, markets bucked the overall positive trend. The Shanghai composite slid by 0.18 percent to close at 2,681.65 while the Shenzhen composite ended 0.782 percent lower at 1,402.51. The moves in the region came after China reported that its fixed asset investment growth in the first eight months of 2018 had reached a new low, despite official industrial output and retail sales data coming in above expectations. Oil rose on Friday, clawing back some territory after prices fell by the most in a month in the previous session, as the focus returned to supply concerns ahead of a November deadline for U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude. Brent crude was up 5 cents at $78.23 a barrel. The global benchmark fell 2 percent on Thursday after rising on Wednesday to its highest since May 22 at $80.13. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 23 cents at $68.81 a barrel after dropping 2.5 percent on Thursday. Brent was set for a 1.8 percent weekly rise and WTI 1.6 percent. Gold rose on Friday as the dollar faltered after softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data dimmed the case for a faster pace of policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve, amid signs of movement in the Sino-U.S. trade standoff. Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,205.18 an ounce as of 0408 GMT, after having hit its highest since Aug. 28 at $1,212.65 on Thursday. It has gained 0.8 percent so far this week, heading for its first weekly gain in three. U.S. gold futures were mostly steady at $1,208.50 an ounce.