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Futures Pointing To Initial Strength On Wall Street

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Tuesday following the mixed performance seen in the previous session.

The upward momentum on Wall Street comes following the release of a Labor Department report showing a modest increase in consumer prices in the month of February.

Trading may also be impacted by news that President Donald Trump plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

After failing to sustain an initial upward move, stocks turned mixed over the course of the trading session on Monday. The mixed performance on the day came on the heels of the strong upward seen in the previous session.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 27.51 points or 0.4 percent to a new record closing high of 7,588.32, the Dow fell 157.13 points or 0.6 percent to 25,178.61 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.55 points or 0.1 percent to 2,783.02.

The initial strength on Wall Street came as traders continued to react positively to the monthly jobs data released by the Labor Department last Friday.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.

The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings fell to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.

However, traders seemed reluctant to continue pushing stocks higher amid a lack of major U.S. economic data on the day.

In the coming days, reports on consumer and producer price inflation, retail sales, regional manufacturing activity, housing starts and industrial production are likely to attract attention.

Notable declines by Boeing (BA) and Caterpillar (CAT) weighed on the Dow amid concerns about the impact of President Donald Trump's recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Semiconductor stocks showed a significant move to the upside, however, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index climbing by 1 percent. With the gain, the index reached a new record closing high.

Micron Technology (MU) lead the semiconductor sector higher, surging up by 8.8 percent after Nomura raised its price target on the chip maker's stock to $100 per share from $55 per share.

Gold and steel stocks also saw some strength on the day, while modest weakness was visible among banking and oil stocks.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are dipping $0.35 to $61.01 a barrel after falling $0.68 to $61.36 a barrel on Monday. Meanwhile, after sliding $3.20 to $1,320.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are rising $2.90 to $1,323.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.86 yen compared to the 106.42 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Monday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2366 compared to yesterday's $1.2334.


Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as commodity prices retreated and investors awaited U.S. consumer inflation due later in the day to gauge the outlook for future interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Chinese shares ended lower to snap a three-day winning streak after the country unveiled a massive cabinet reshuffle plan, including the merger of its banking and insurance regulators to better handle financial risks.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slid 15.42 points or 0.5 percent to 3,311.28, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed marginally higher in choppy trading.

Japanese shares rose for a fourth straight day as a softer yen helped lift exporters, offsetting weakness in steelmakers and automakers. The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 144.07 points or 0.7 percent to 21,968.10, and the broader Topix index closed 0.6 percent higher at 1,751.03.

Canon rose 0.3 percent and Sony gained over 1 percent, while Honda Motor shed 0.8 percent and Nippon Steel declined 0.7 percent. Oil firm Inpex lost 1.7 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration tumbled 2.2 percent.

Australian shares closed lower amid broad-based selling as commodity prices fell and data on business confidence and new home loan approvals disappointed investors.

Business confidence in Australia ebbed in January, the latest survey from National Australia Bank revealed with an index score of +9. The total number of new home loans fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent sequentially in January, official data showed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index dropped 21.40 points or 0.4 percent to 5,974.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 24.30 points or 0.4 percent at 6,077.10.

Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group fell 1-3 percent while steelmaker BlueScope Steel declined 1.5 percent. Gold miner Newcrest dropped 1.9 percent on brokerage downgrades.

Santos and Oil Search fell about 1 percent after crude oil prices declined more than 1 percent overnight. The big four banks ended down between 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent.


The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has dipped by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index is just above the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.3 percent.

Antofagasta has rallied after the mining giant nearly doubled its 2017 dividend after reporting a sharp rise in earnings.

E.ON has also moved sharply higher after the German utility announced a special dividend to shareholders after posting turnaround results for 2017.

Meanwhile, French telecom firm Iliad has slumped after its net profit stayed essentially flat in 2017. Veolia has also declined after sovereign wealth developer Qatari Diar sold its stake in the utility group.

Specialty chemical producer Wacker Chemie has plunged after saying it aims to lift its 2018 sales by a low single-digit percentage.

Re-insurer Hannover has also come under pressure after its group net income for fiscal year 2017 declined to 958.6 million euros.

U.S. Economic Reports

A report released by the Labor Department showed consumer prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of February.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in February after climbing by 0.5 percent in January. Economists had expected consumer prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, also edged up by 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January. The uptick in core prices also matched expectations.

At 1 pm ET, the Treasury Department is scheduled to announce the results of its auction of $13 billion worth of thirty-year bonds.

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