Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures struggle for direction after weak China growth

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U.S. stock-index futures traded near unchanged Friday morning after data showed China’s economic growth slowing further in the third quarter, with investors looking for direction at the end of a week that saw equities buoyed by a strong start to corporate earnings reporting season.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ19, +0.03% were up 7 points, or less than 0.1%, at 27,000, while the S&P 500 ESZ19, +0.07% rose 2.15 points, or 0.1%, to 3,000. Nasdaq-100 futures NQZ19, -0.01% NQZ19, -0.01% were flat at 7,952.75.

Stocks ended with small gains Thursday, with the Dow DJIA, +0.09%  up 23.9 points, or 0.1%, at 27,025.88 after flipping between positive and negative territory. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.28%  gained 8.26 points, or 0.3%, to close at 2,997.95, while the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.40%  advanced 32.67 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 8,156.85.

What’s driving the market?

Global equities were under pressure Friday after China’s National Bureau of Statistics said growth of the world’s second-largest economy slowed to 6% growth in the third quarter from a 6.2% pace in the second quarter, and the slowest pace since the early 1990s. The pace was in the middle of the central government’s full-year target for gross domestic product, as business investment continued to deteriorate.

“Though analysts had expected to see Chinese GDP growth to be weaker than in the previous quarters the overall expectation was of an increase of 6.1% with a decline to below 6% at some point next year,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, in a note. “However, Friday’s data shows that the decline is accelerating and that trade-war frictions are taking their toll faster than expected.”

While the weaker growth might stir expectations Beijing will be more amenable to completing a trade deal with the U.S., it’s also likely to reinforce concerns about a slowing global economy.

Stocks were buoyed Thursday after U.K. and European Union leaders announced a tentative agreement on Brexit, but the deal faces a significant hurdle in the U.K. Parliament with a debate and vote set for Saturday.

Read: What a Brexit deal would mean for U.S. stocks and global investors

A busy week for earnings comes to a close Friday. Shares of beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. KO, +0.56% were higher in premarket action after reporting third-quarter results. Shares of oil-field-services firm Schlumberger Ltd. SLB, -0.19% were also higher after reporting third-quarter earnings and revenue that came in above Wall Street expectations.

What’s on the economic calendar?

The economic calendar features September U.S. Conference Board leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. Eastern and a flurry of public remarks by Federal Reserve officials, including a speech by Vice Chairman Richard Clarida on the economic outlook and interest rates in Boston at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Ahead of that, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan is scheduled to participate in a moderated question-and-answer session at a 9 a.m. Eastern event, while Kansas City Fed President Esther George will deliver a speech on the economy in Denver at 10:05 a.m. Eastern.

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