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Wall Street futures held onto modest gains heading into the start of trading Thursday, while European and Asia stocks drifted lower as a rebound for bond yields failed to offset trade tensions linked to President Donald Trump’s warning on NAFTA membership.
Early indications from U.S. equity futures suggest modest gains for the three major benchmarks after stocks snapped a six-day winning streak last night amid concerns over the rapid rise in U.S. Treasury bond yields and suggestions from President Trump that he is prepared to exit the North American Free Trade Agreement if its isn’t comprehensively re-negotiated.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were marked 13 points, or 0.06%, higher at 06:00am eastern time trading while those liked to the broader S&P 500 gained 1.75 points, or 0.1% from their Wednesday close and Nasdaq futures added 3 points.
The U.S. dollar index, which benchmarks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, weakened modestly to 92.46 as Treasury bond yields fell from their 10-month peak as officials in China disputed a Bloomberg News report that suggested the country, which holds the world’s biggest position in U.S. government bonds, could halt further purchases and direct their massive foreign currency reserves to other asset classes.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields were seen 6 basis points lower from their Wednesday levels at 2.537% while similar bonds issued by Germany were 2.5 basis points lower at 0.46%.
Xerox Corp (XRX) shares were an early pre-market mover, and surging 9.8% following a report in the Wall Street Journal that linked it to a merger with Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp. amid pressure from activist investor Carl Ichan to boost returns for the the photocopying and printing icon.
The WSJ said a full takeover of the Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox isn’t part of the discussions, but noted that an existing joint venture based in the Asia-Pacific region between the two group could make a deeper tie-up more likely and that a change of control in the company could take place.
Xerox making some news Thursday.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index edged 0.1% to the downside in the opening 30 minutes of trading, even as a modestly weaker euro, which slipped 0.05% against a weaker U.S. dollar to 1.1941. Most national markets were little-changed, however, with the DAX performance index in Germany up 0.05% and the CAC-40 in Paris gaining 0.13%.
Britain’s FTSE 100 was standout performer at the opening bell, rising 0.12% to within a few points of its all-time higher after some solid readings on consumer spending over the Christmas holidays and better-than-expected performances from some heavyweight retail stocks.
Overnight in Asia, stocks fell for the second consecutive session as tech shares once again held down sentiment as Samsung Electronics Co. slumped to a four-month low following its disappointing fourth quarter earnings guidance earlier this week. The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 0.25% into the close of trading while Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.33% to close at 22,710.43 points.
Global oil prices extended gains after closing at a three-year high last night as investors again on bets that falling U.S. crude stocks and slowing production rates will support OPEC’s agreed output limits.
Brent crude contracts for March delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 19 cents higher from their Wednesday New York close and changing hands at $69.39 per barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude contracts for the same month, which are more closely linked to U.S. gas prices, were seen 14 cents lower at $63.71 per barrel.
Bitcoins were also under pressure, falling more than $1,600 each to $13,200 on the Bitstamp exchange, which feeds prices into the CME Group futures contract, after authorities in South Korea’s Justice Department said they were preparing a bill that would ban cryptocurrency exchanges in one of the world’s biggest markets.