Forex Trading

Futures Pointing To Roughly Flat Open On Wall Street

After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures nearly unchanged.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting next week.

While the Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, traders will look to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for rates.

Recent hotter-than-expected inflation readings have reduced optimism about the likelihood of the Fed’s first rate cut coming in June.

According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the probability of the Fed leaving rates unchanged at June meeting has climbed from 25 percent to 41.6 percent.

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed import prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of February.

The Labor Department said import prices rose by 0.3 percent in February after climbing by 0.8 percent in January. The uptick matched expectations.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices advanced by 0.8 percent in February following an upwardly revised 0.9 percent increase in January.

Economists had expected export prices to edge up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.8 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York also released a report showing New York manufacturing activity has contracted at a significantly accelerated rate in the month of March.

Shortly before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on industrial production in the month of February. Industrial production is expected to come in unchanged in February after edging down by 0.1 percent in January.

The University of Michigan is also due to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in the month of March not long after the start of trading. The consumer sentiment index is expected to be unchanged in March after falling to 76.9 in February.

Stocks showed a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday but moved mostly lower over the course of the session. The major averages all moved to the downside on the day, although selling pressure remained somewhat subdued.

The major averages climbed well off their worst levels going into the close but remained in negative territory. The Dow slid 137.66 points or 0.4 percent to 39,905.66, the Nasdaq fell 49.24 points or 0.3 percent to 16,128.53 and the S&P 500 dipped 14.83 points or 0.3 percent to 5,150.48.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Friday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled by 1.4 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.3 percent, although China’s Shanghai Composite Index bucked the downtrend and rose by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.57 to $80.69 a barrel after jumping $1.54 to $81.26 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after falling $13.30 to $2,167.50 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging down $2.40 to $2,165.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 148.81 yen versus the 148.33 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0886 compared to yesterday’s $1.0883.

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