Stocks are likely to move to the upside on the first trading day of 2020 on Thursday, extending the strong upward move seen last year. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 158 points.
The markets seem poised to continue to ride the upward momentum that helped lift stocks to record highs in the latter part of 2019.
Optimism about the potential impact of a phase one U.S.-China trade deal may generate continued buying interest, with President Donald Trump saying the deal is due to be signed during a White House ceremony on January 15th.
Trump said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that he would travel to Beijing at a later date to begin talks on phase two of a trade agreement.
Recent reports have indicated Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s top trade negotiator, will be on hand to sign the phase one deal.
The U.S. economy has held up relatively well in the face of the U.S.-China trade war, and the signing of the phase one deal could lift some of the uncertainty hanging over some industries.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly edged slightly lower from an upwardly revised level in the week ended December 28th.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 222,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 224,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 225,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to its highest level since January of 2018.
Stocks showed a lack of direction throughout much of the trading day on Tuesday but moved to the upside going into the close. The moderate advance on the day capped off a strong year for stocks, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 posting their biggest yearly gains in six years.
The major averages ended the day just off their highs of the session. The Dow climbed 76.30 points or 0.3 percent to 28,538.44, the Nasdaq rose 26.61 points or 0.3 percent to 8,972.60 and the S&P 500 edged up 9.49 points or 0.3 percent to 3,230.78.
For the year, the Nasdaq spiked by 35.2 percent and the S&P 500 soared by 29.6 percent, recording their best gains since 2013. The Dow also jumped by 22.3 percent, turning in its best year since 2017.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, with the Japanese markets still closed for New Year’s. China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged up by 1.3 percent.
The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has shot up by 1.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 1 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are inching up $0.06 to $61.12 a barrel after sliding $0.62 to $61.06 a barrel on Tuesday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,527.50, up $4.40 compared to the previous session’s close of $1,523.10. On Tuesday, gold climbed $4.50.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.71 yen compared to the 108.76 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.1194 compared to $1.1212.
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