Market Snapshot: Stock-index futures struggle for direction as bulls look to extend winning streak

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Stock-index futures were flat to slightly higher Wednesday, with bullish investors hoping to keep a five-day winning streak going in the wake of a phase-one U.S.-China trade deal and fading worries over the global economic outlook.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.07%  were up 6 points, or less than 0.1%, at 28,290, while S&P 500 futures ESH20, +0.07%  were up 0.1 point at 3,195.50. Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.08%  edged up 0.75 point to 8,606.

Major indexes scored their fifth straight gain Tuesday, with all three logging the latest in a series of record finishes, albeit after modest gains. The Dow DJIA, +0.11% on Tuesday rose 31.27 points, or 0.1%, to end at 28,267.16, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.03%  eked out a gain of 1.07 points, or less than 0.1%, to finish at 3,192.52. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.10%  closed at 8823.36 after a gain of 9.13 points, or 0.1%.

What’s driving the market?

The U.S. – China trade deal announced last Friday includes a partial roll back on some existing tariffs on Chinese imports and the scrapping of plans for additional levies ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline. While it could benefit American farmers there is skepticism over the targets set by U.S. negotiators.

“In the absence of fresh details on the terms of the deal or when it is expected to be signed, there was some nervousness in the markets,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a note. “However, even without any new drivers, the injection of positive sentiment from the announcement of the deal is likely to be enough to last till the end of the year as trading winds down during the Christmas and New Year period.”

In an interview with Fox Business on Tuesday, Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, also suggested the Trump administration was ready to escalate its trade confrontation with the EU, potentially through new tariffs, after sealing a truce with China and enacting the USMCA agreement with Canada and Mexico to replace Nafta.

Meanwhile, investors appeared less gloomy over global economic prospects. A gauge of German business sentiment, the Ifo business-climate index, came in at a stronger-than-expected 96.3 points Wednesday morning, rising from an upwardly revised 95.1 in November and topping forecasts for a reading of 95.5.

Investors so far remain largely unfazed by impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump led by House Democrats. The House is widely expected to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment against the president Wednesday, setting the stage for a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is viewed as likely to acquit Trump.

Read: Here’s what’s happening next in Democrats’ effort to impeach President Trump

“In other words, there looks almost certain to be no political payoff for markets to worry about from this epic impeachment saga — except perhaps to enthuse Republican voters and make Trump 2020 more, not less, likely,” said Michael Every, a strategist at Rabobank, in a note.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans is due to deliver remarks in Indiana at 12:40 p.m. Eastern. Evans, who was a voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee in 2019, becomes an alternative member next year.

Which companies are in focus?

FedEx Corp. FDX, -0.53%  shares were down 7.8% in premarket action after it reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and an outlook that fell short of Wall Street forecasts.

Shares of General Mills Inc. GIS, -0.40%  were higher in premarket action after the consumer foods company reported a fiscal second-quarter profit that topped expectations, though revenue came up a bit short of forecasts.

Results are due after the closing bell from chip maker Micron Technology Inc. MU, +0.11%  , which rose Tuesday to a more-than-one-year high on signs of improvement for the industry.

Shares of Nio NIO, +4.44%   dipped in pre-market trading after a 15% run-up over the past few days.

What are other markets doing?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.28%   dipped 1 basis point to 1.88%.

The price of crude oil drifted down after four straight sessions of higher prices. West Texas Intermediate crude CL00, -0.49%   was 34 cents, 0.6%, lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The price of an ounce of gold for February delivery GCG20, -0.03%    was unchanged at $1,480.60.

The U.S. dollar DXY, +0.17%   rose 15 cents, .2%, against a basket of its peers.

The U.K. FTSE 100 UKX, +0.04%    rose about 7 points, 0.1%. In Asia overnight, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.22%  was little changed at 4,032, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 40.50 points, 0.2%, and Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.55%    tumbled 131.69 points, 0.6%.

Related: Here’s what may drive stocks even higher (hint: not the trade war or the Fed)

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