By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch
Expiration of stock-index and stock futures and options are a factor Friday
U.S. stock-index futures on Friday looked set to open higher, and finish a week with sharp gains, shaking off worries about slowing global growth, notably in China. Stocks will also be affected by Friday's quadruple witching, the simultaneous expiration of stock-index and individual stock options and futures.
How did major indexes fare?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 132 points, or 0.5%, at 25,842, while the S&P 500 index climbed 12.95 points, or 0.5%, at 2,823, and the Nasdaq-100 futures advanced 42 points to 7,309.25, a gain of 0.6%.
On Thursday, the Dow rose 7.05 points to 25,709.94, a gain of less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 index slipped 2.44 points to 2,808.48, finishing little changed, and the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 12.50 points, or 0.2%, to 7,630.91.
For the week, the Dow is set for a weekly gain of 1%, while the S&P 500 is set for a weekly gain of 2.4%, and the Nasdaq has risen 3% thus far in the week, as of Thursday's close. The weekly gains would represent the best since the period ended Feb. 15, according to FactSet data.
What are benchmarks doing?
Gains for equities on Friday come as Chinese Premier Li Keqaing, Beijing's No. 2 leader after President Xi Jinping, expressed optimism that a trade deal between China and the U.S. can be achieved that suits both parties.
He also denied accusations that the country used its technology to spy on other countries, attempting to lay to rest one of the key issues that stand between the U.S. and China in a trade agreement.
"This is not how China behaves. We did not do that and will not do that in the future," Li said in translated remarks at the conclusion of the National People's Congress on Thursday.
He added that the parties may be several weeks away from a tariff agreement, but described China as "very responsible and reasonable." Separately, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to reporters (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-talks/trump-xi-summit-will-not-happen-in-march-mnuchin-idUSKCN1QV2B2) after his Senate testimony in front of a finance committee said no date had been set for a meeting between Xi and Trump to complete a deal, adding that "there's still a lot of work to do."
Bloomberg News a day ago said a meeting that had tentatively been penciled in for the end of March would be pushed back to April.
Trade talks between the two of the globe's largest economies has been chief among concerns for investors because an heated war between the two have the potential to hurt economies world-wide.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan left interest rates unchanged, as expected, while also maintaining purchases of Japanese government bonds.
Separate from its comments on trade, China's Li underscored weakness in the world's second-largest economy and promised implementation of ways to boost it, including cutting interest rates and banks' reserve requirement ratio.
Which data are in focus
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Empire state manufacturing index for March is set to be released, while readings on industrial production and capacity utilization for February are scheduled to come out at 9:15 a.m., while a report on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released at 10 a.m.
What are strategists saying?
Pierre Veyret, technical analyst at ActivTrades said "this risk-on sentiment was mainly built on ground of a widespread optimism following President Trump's recent statement about a "very responsible and reasonable China". The US President also added he will have news on a China trade deal in the next 3-4 weeks and that could lead to an extension of this year's rally on stocks."
"Its quadruple options expiration day, which is likely to cause a swelling of volume and volatility," wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 15, 2019 07:42 ET (11:42 GMT)
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