17, March 2017

Flat opening for US stock index futures ahead of data; G-20 meeting eyed

US equity futures pointed to a flat open on Friday pre-session hours as market participants looked ahead of fresh economic reports while keeping an eye on the G20 meeting.

Wall Street top three indexes ended mostly lower on Thursday, with utilities and healthcare sector values falling around 1 percent during the session. Meanwhile, the financial sector was able to rise 0.3 percent by the end of trades.

According to market analysts, the downturn of healthcare stocks was triggered by President Trump’s intention to trim $5.8 billion from the National Institute of Health in its new budget.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: -0.07 percent / 20934.55 points

  • Standard & Poor’s 500: -0.16 percent / 2381.38 points

  • Nasdaq Composite: +0.01 percent / 5900.76 points

In economic news, building permits disappointed investors by falling 6.2 percent in February, more than a 2.6 percent forecasted reduction. Housing starts rose 3.0 percent, well above expectations for a 1.4 percent increase. Initial jobless claims dropped by 2,000 to 241,000.

Other news included the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index for Marc, which came in at 32.8 points from a previous 43.3 and 30.0 seen by analysts. Also, JOLTs job openings for January were better-than-expected at 5.626 million against 5.450 million initially estimated.

Earlier this week, the Federal Open Market Committee rose interest rates by 25 basis points to a range of 0.75 - 1.00 percent, marking its second move in less than six months. While the FOMC statement was certainly hawkish, it was less hawkish than market players expected. Inflation and labor market conditions remain in focus to determine future benchmark rate hikes.

As for today, attention will be at industrial production figures for February at 13:15 GMT, with analysts pointing at a 0.2 percent build. Michigan consumer expectations and sentiment for March will be released as of 14:00 GMT. Oil service provider Baker Hughes will also present its weekly oil rig count, which last week moved to 617 units.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 group meet today at Baden-Baden to discuss several topics, including currency confusion, “America First” policies, the role of a strong US dollar in the world, global growth concerns and Africa’s challenges.