Monday December 31st


Dow is set for more than 200-point gain on hopes for US-China trade progress

U.S. stock futures point to a higher open on Monday on growing optimism surrounding U.S.-China trade talks. At around 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures implied a rise of more than 200 points at the open. Futures for Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 also pointed to a higher open. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump said he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss trade. The president also claimed that “big progress” was being made on this front. Trump’s statements sparked gains in markets worldwide. Following the comments, however, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement,” citing sources familiar with the situation. Trump’s comments came after both Xi and he earlier this month agreed to a 90-day pause in tariff escalation. However, market sentiment remained on edge after suggested that China’s manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected. Stocks in Asia were mixed on the final day of 2018, as most major markets around the globe were set to record calendar year declines. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.34 percent to finish the trading year at 25,845.70. The day’s gains, however, were unable to offset the index’s performance for 2018 — with it declining about 13.61 percent as compared to its final close of 2017. Markets in Japan, South Korea and mainland China were closed. Oil prices rose more than 2 percent on the final day of the year, mirroring gains in stock markets, but were on track for their first annual decline in three years as concerns of a persistent supply glut lingered. Hints of progress on a possible U.S.-China trade deal, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped bolster sentiment for oil. Brent crude futures was up $1.49, or 2.8 percent, at $54.70 a barrel by 8:16 a.m. ET (1316 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $46.40 a barrel, up $1.07, or 2.4 percent. Both contracts are down more than a third this quarter, the steepest decline since the fourth quarter of 2014. Gold scaled a six-month peak on Monday but was poised for its first annual decline since 2015 after losing out this year to dollar strength linked to the Sino-U.S. trade conflict and rising interest rates. Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,283.21 an ounce at 8:18 a.m. ET, with a dip in the dollar helping to lift the metal to its highest since June 15. U.S. gold futures were up 0.23 percent at $1,285.90. However, spot prices are still down 1.5 percent in the year to date.