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Wall Street Leans Forward Pre-Bell; Futures Green

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Wall Street is leaning forward pre-market Wednesday, with US stock-index futures pointing to an opening bell up perhaps 0.20% from Tuesday’s close. European bourses are trading mildly higher, and Asian exchanges closed mixed after the International Monetary Fund lowered its global 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to 3.3% from the previous 3.5%. The European Central Bank reveals its policy decision at 7:45 am ET, though no changes are expected. Ride-service Uber targets a $100 billion market cap and a $10 billion IPO. Bitcoin trades for $5,237, oil trades for $64.42, and 10-year US Treasuries offer 2.50%

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On the economic calendar at 8:30 am ET is the much-discussed consumer price index (CPI) release. At 10 am is the Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations bulletin. At 10:30 is the much-watched EIA domestic oil inventories bulletin.

For Federal Reserve-watchers, at 11:50 am Vice Chair Randal Quarles speaks, followed by the release of the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes at 2 pm. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan holds a discussion with former Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 7 pm.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and MSC Industrial Direct (MSM) release earnings pre-bell.

In the futures, the S&P 500 is up 0.26%, the Nasdaq is up 0.21%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.25%.

In Europe, the British FTSE 100 is up 0.10%, the French CAC 40 is up 0.40% and the German DAX is up 0.42%.

Asian stock markets were uneven Wednesday, after the International Monetary Fund lowered its global GDP growth outlook, citing slower trade and various national structural concerns, although the outlook for mainland China was boosted. Hong Kong and Tokyo stock markets fell back, but Shanghai rose, while other exchanges were similarly choppy.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened lower on Wall Street cues and never regained ground, The IMF downgraded its 2019 GDP growth forecast for Japan to 1.0% from the previous 1.1%. Also, the yen gained against the US dollar, considered a negative in export-oriented Japan.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 115.02, or 0.53%, to 21,687.57, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 184 to 34.

Leading the upside on a down day were retailer J Front Retailing (JFROF, 3086:Tokyo), up 3.4%, followed by mobile-app provider DeNA (DNACY, 2432:Tokyo), up 2.0%, and then oil-industry engineer JGC Corp. (JGCCY, 1963:Tokyo), also up 2.0%.

On the downside were petroleum refiner Idemitsu Kosen (IDKOY, 5019:Tokyo), off 3.7%, and builder Kajima (KAJMY, 1812:Tokyo), off 3.2%.

In economic news, Japanese core machinery orders rose 1.8% in February month-on-month, the first increase in four months, but below expectations.

In other news, the market capitalization of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange rose above that of Japan’s, clinching to No. 3 spot behind the US and mainland China. The Hong Kong exchange lists $5.78 billion worth of shares vs. $5.76 billion in Tokyo.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng opened lower after the IMF 2019 GDP forecast.

The broad gauge Hang Seng fell 37.93, or 0.13% to 30,119.56, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 34 to 14.

Leading the upside on a down day were tool-maker Techtronic (569:HK), up 2.4%, followed by Geely Automotive (175:HK), up 2.2%, and then media-internet giant and index-heavyweight Tencent (700:HK), up 1.4%.

On the downside were developer China Resources Land (1109:HK), off 2.5%, and then China Mengniu Dairy (2319:HK), off 2.3%.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.07% to 3,241.93.

However, the International Monetary Fund said China is projected to grow by 6.3% this year, above the previous forecast of 6.2%, due to stimulative fiscal and monetary policies.

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On the other exchanges, the South Korean Kospi rose 0.49%; the Taiwan TWSE grew 0.15%; the Australian ASX 200 gained 0.03%; the Singapore Straits Times Index rose 0.06%; and the Thai Set inclined 0.26%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was off 0.91%.

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