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Futures Pointing To Slightly Higher Open On Wall Street

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a slightly higher opening on Friday, with stocks likely to add to the modest gains posted in the previous session.

A positive reaction to the latest batch of earnings news may contribute to initial strength on Wall Street, with Coca-Cola (KO) moving notably higher in pre-market trading after reporting better than expected third quarter results and raised its full-year guidance.

Shares of American Express (AXP) may also move to the upside after the credit card giant reported third quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Early buying interest may remain subdued, however, with disappointing Chinese economic data offsetting the positive sentiment.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's economy grew at the slowest rate in nearly three decades in the third quarter, raising pressure on policymakers to roll out more stimulus.

China's GDP grew 6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter after rising 6.2 percent in the second quarter. This was the slowest growth since the early 1990s. Growth was forecast to slow marginally to 6.1 percent.

Lingering uncertainty about a possible U.S.-China trade deal may also weigh on the markets along with doubts about the Brexit deal getting through parliament.

Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Thursday but eventually ending the day modestly higher. The major averages all closed in positive territory, although buying interest was somewhat subdued.

The Dow bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before closing up 23.90 points or 0.1 percent to 27,025.88. The Nasdaq climbed 32.67 points or 0.4 percent to 8,156.85 and the S&P 500 rose 8.26 points or 0.3 percent to 2,997.95.

Early buying interest was generated in reaction to news that U.K. and European Union negotiators have reached a last-minute Brexit deal.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described the deal as "fair and balanced" for the EU and the U.K. and urged member nations to back the agreement.

The deal could eliminate some of the Brexit uncertainty hanging over the global markets, although it remains to be seen if the agreement will be approved by U.K. lawmakers.

Uncertainty about final approval of the deal helped to limit the upside for the markets along with the release of some disappointing U.S. economic data.

Just before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in industrial production, with the strike at General Motors (GM) contributing to a drop in manufacturing output.

The Fed said industrial production fell by 0.4 percent in September after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.8 percent in August.

Economists had expected production to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed a sharp pullback in housing starts in the month of September.

The Commerce Department said housing starts plunged by 9.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.256 million in September after soaring by 15.1 percent to a revised 1.386 million in August.

Economists had expected housing starts to drop by 3.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.320 million from the 1.364 million originally reported for the previous month.

The report said building permits also slumped by 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.387 million in September after jumping by 8.2 percent to a revised 1.425 million in August.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to tumble by 4.9 percent to a rate of 1.350 million from the 1.419 million originally reported for the previous month.

Tobacco stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session, driving the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 2.8 percent.

The rally by tobacco stocks came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the death toll from a purportedly vaping-related illness has risen to 33.

Significant strength also emerged among gold stocks, as reflected by the 2.3 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The strength in the gold sector came amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

Networking and telecom stocks also saw some strength on the day, while oil service stocks moved to the downside over the course of the session.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are rising $0.50 to $54.43 a barrel after climbing $0.57 to $53.93 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after rising $4.30 to $1,498.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slipping $4 to 1,494.30 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.54 yen versus the 108.66 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1148 compared to yesterday's $1.1125.

Asia

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Friday, with disappointing Chinese data and uncertainty about final approval of the draft Brexit deal keeping investors nervous ahead of the weekend.

Chinese stocks saw their steepest daily drop in a month as weak GDP data raised fresh worries over the health of the world's second-largest economy.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 39.19 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,938.14, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 128.91 points or 0.5 percent to 26,719.58.

China's economy grew at the slowest rate in nearly three decades in the third quarter, raising pressure on policymakers to roll out more stimulus.

China's GDP grew 6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter after rising 6.2 percent in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said. This was the slowest growth since the early 1990s. Growth was forecast to slow marginally to 6.1 percent.

Industrial production advanced 5.8 percent annually in September after rising 4.4 percent in August and 4.8 percent in July. Output was expected to climb 4.9 percent.

Annual growth in retail sales increased to 7.8 percent, in line with expectations. During January to September, fixed asset investment grew 5.4 percent, which was slightly slower than the forecast of 5.5 percent increase.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares hit a 10-month high, with tech stocks leading the surge following upbeat earnings from Taiwan's TSMC. Sentiment was also boosted after the government said the trade deal reached between the U.S. and Japan will boost domestic growth by about 0.8 percent.

The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,492.68, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,621.99 after the release of weak Chinese GDP data.

Screen Holdings, a major chip industry supplier, jumped 7.9 percent and Sumco advanced 4.3 percent. Heavyweight Fast Retailing gained 1.8 percent and Fanuc added 2.2 percent.

Japanese inflation eased to the lowest level in more than two years in September, data showed, raising pressure on the central bank to ease policy further.

Excluding fresh food, inflation eased to 0.3 percent in September from 0.5 percent in August, the statistics bureau reported. This was the lowest since April 2017 and in line with expectations.

Australian markets fell on worries over slowing global growth and skepticism over the Brexit deal. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,649.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 33.10 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,758.40.

Healthcare stocks such as CSL and Cochlear fell slightly as the Aussie dollar gained ground. Banks extended losses for a second straight session, with ANZ, NAB and Westpac falling between 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent.

IOOF Holdings rallied 3.6 percent as the banking regulator stood down from appealing a Federal Court decision to dismiss its regulatory action against the wealth manager.

Energy firms Woodside Petroleum and Santos ended modestly lower, while Origin Energy fell as much as 2.5 percent.

Mining stocks ended on a mixed note. Seven West Media rose 1.3 percent after the company said it will merge with regional affiliate Prime Media Group in a A$63.8 million all-stock deal expected to be completed in January.

Shares of Southern Cross Media, which has agreed to buy Seven West's WA radio network Redwave for A$28 million, jumped 2.3 percent.

Seoul stocks fell as worries about slowing growth in China overshadowed optimism from a Brexit deal between the U.K. and the European Union. The Kospi dropped 17.25 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,060.69.

Europe

European stocks are turning in a lackluster performance on Friday as weak GDP data from China has rekindled growth worries and doubts swirl both about the merits of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal and about the likelihood of the deal getting through parliament. A slew of disappointing earnings has also kept investors nervous.

While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are nearly unchanged.

Renault shares have slumped after the automaker cut its operating margin and revenue outlook for fiscal year 2019, citing a less favorable economic environment and a regulatory context that requires ever-increasing costs.

Food company Danone has also come under pressure after the company lowered its sales outlook, while defense electronics firm Thales has tumbled after cutting its revenue growth forecast for 2019.

On the other hand, reinsurer Munich Re has risen after saying it expects to beat its target for the consolidated result of 2.5 billion euros for 2019..

Swiss drug major Roche Group has also moved higher after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a supplemental New Drug Application for Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil).

In economic news, the euro area current account surplus increased in August amid higher primary income and trade in services, the European Central Bank reported today.

U.S. Economic Reports

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan is scheduled to speak in a moderated discussion at the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee's "The Disentanglement of the Global Economy" event in Washington, D.C., at 9 am ET.

At 10 am ET, the Conference Board is due to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of September. The leading economic index is expected to rise by 0.2 percent in September after coming in unchanged in August.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George is also scheduled to speak at a Conference on Energy and the Economy in Denver, Colorado, at 10 am ET.

At 10:30 am ET, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is slated to speak at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Annual Leadership Summit in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida is due to speak on the economic outlook and monetary policy at a conference held by the CFA Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, at 11:30 am ET.

At 5:10 pm ET, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is scheduled to speak at the Conference on Energy and the Economy, in Denver.

Stocks In Focus

Shares of E*Trade (ETFC) are moving notably higher in pre-market trading after the online broker reported third quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) may also see initial strength after the maker of robotic surgical devices reported better than expected third quarter results.

On the other hand, shares of WD-40 (WDFC) may come under pressure after the lubricant maker reported fiscal fourth quarter results that beat estimates but provided disappointing guidance.

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