Thursday March 22nd


Dow set to open more than 250 points lower ahead of tariff announcement

U.S. stock index futures ticked lower ahead of Thursday's open, as investors braced for a tariff announcement from the White House. Around 8:51 a.m. ET, Dow futures dropped 296 points, indicating a drop of 255 points at the open. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 futures also indicated a negative open for their respective markets. The moves in premarket trade come after Wall Street finished Wednesday's session in the red. The Trump administration is set to announce later on Thursday tariffs designed to punish China for intellectual property theft. Equities have been under pressure recently as the Trump administration ramps up a protectionist trade agenda. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced the implementation of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, raising concerns about a potential trade war. Social media firms also remained at the forefront of investors' minds. Earlier this week, reports emerged alleging that Cambridge Analytica, an analytics company, had gathered data from 50 million Facebook profiles without the permission of its users. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence on the matter, telling CNN that it had been "a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened," expanding upon a statement he released online earlier that day. Facebook shares dropped more than 2.5 percent in the premarket Thursday. Investors also digested the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy decision. As widely expected by the markets, the Fed raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday and upgraded its economic outlook, saying that economic activity and jobs gains had been strong in recent months. Market watchers expect the central bank to hike three times in 2018, while the Fed announced that it was increasing its rate-hike forecast for 2019. Following the announcement, Treasury yields rose with the benchmark 10-year yield briefly topping 2.9 percent, before paring some gains. Switching to Thursday's session, central banking news remained on the agenda as the Bank of England kept interest rates unchanged. Overseas, stocks in Europe were under slight pressure, while Asia saw a mixed session Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.99 percent, or 211.02 points, to close at 24,591.99 and the broader Topix edged up by 0.65 percent. Elsewhere, South Korea's benchmark Kospi advanced 0.44 percent to close at 2,496.02, a seven-week high. Greater China markets gave up early gains, with the Hang Seng Indexeasing 0.61 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. Over on the mainland, the Shanghai composite lost 0.52 percent to close at 3,263.83 and the Shenzhen composite edged lower by 0.49 percent to end at 1,849.60. The large-cap CSI 300 index finished the day down 1 percent. Oil prices gave up earlier gains as the relentless rise in U.S. crude production threatens to undermine efforts led by producer cartel OPEC to tighten the market. Brent crude futures were at $69.30 per barrel, down 17 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.08 a barrel, down 9 cents from their previous settlement. Gold steadied on Thursday after hitting a two week high in the previous session as the dollar slid on what was seen as a less hawkish than expected rate hike view from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Gold spot dipped 0.22 percent to $1,328.81 per ounce at 8:20 a.m. EST. Prices rose to a two-week high of $1,336.59 on Wednesday, and also registered their biggest single-day percentage gain since May 17, 2017. U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose 0.56 percent to $1,328.70 per ounce.