Top 5 Things to Know In the Market on Thursday
1. Geopolitical issues continue to dominate headlines
Market focus remained centered on developments in geopolitical issues as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Moscow on Wednesday.
Tillerson insisted that the lines of communication between the two countries would always be open in order to better define U.S.-Russia relations.
His Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that the U.S. attack on Syria violated international law and he was looking forward to Tillerson explaining America’s real intentions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steams towards the region.
Xi's call with Trump came after an influential state-run Chinese newspaper warned that the Korean peninsula was the closest it has been to a "military clash" since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006.
2. Global stocks react to tension with mixed signals
Asian shares fell on Wednesday led by Tokyo as tensions on the Korean peninsula went a notch higher. The Nikkei 225 found itself under additional pressure as the yen hit a five-month high against the dollar.
However, European stocks shrugged off worries and traded broadly higher near mid-day on the Old Continent. At 5:59AM ET (9:59GMT), the benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.26%, Germany's DAX rose 0.31%, France’s CAC 40 added 0.35% and London’s FTSE 100 traded up 0.30%.
Meanwhile, U.S. futures pointed to a slightly higher open in cautious trade after Tuesday’s slight pullback. The blue-chip Dow futures gained 0.06%, S&P 500 futures inched up 0.02% and the Nasdaq 100 futures edged forward 0.05%.
3. Trump confirms plan to finish healthcare reform ahead of taxes
The U.S. President set his sights back on healthcare, outlining his plan to finish negotiating with Republicans on the reform before moving forward to tax cuts.
“We are going to have a phenomenal tax reform but I have to do healthcare first,” Trump reportedly explained in an interview with Fox Business recorded Tuesday night and scheduled to be aired at 6:00AM ET (10:00GMT).
"Healthcare is going to happen at some point. Now if it doesn't start fast enough, I'll start the taxes,” he said in the interview.
“But the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do healthcare first," Trump insisted.
4. Gold and yen hit 5-month highs as safe havens hold appeal
Even though European stocks and U.S. futures were moving higher, investors continued to show appetite for safe haven assets pushing both gold and yen to fresh five-month highs on Wednesday.
Gold for June delivery was at $1,275.25 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange by 6:01AM ET (10:01GMT), after going as high as $1,281.75, the most since November 9.
USD/JPY hit an intraday high of 109.76, before pulling back to 109.67 by 6:03AM ET (10:03GMT).
5. Oil on track for 7% rally
U.S. crude continued to trade higher on Wednesday, taking its gains in this week marked by geopolitical tension to nearly 3% and to almost 7% since its last down day on April 3.
Oil prices were supported by reports that Saudi Arabia has told OPEC officials that it wants to extend the cartel’s agreement to cut crude-oil production for another six months when the group meets in May.
Also supporting prices, the American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday a 1.3 million barrel decline in weekly stockpiles, compared to expectations for a build of 0.125 million.
The Energy Information Administration will report its own weekly numbers on Wednesday at 10:30AM ET (14:30GMT), amid expectations for a build of just 0.087 million barrels.
U.S. crude oil futures gained 0.58% to $53.71 at 6:04AM ET (10:04GMT), while Brent oiltraded up 0.69% to $56.62.