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U.S. Stocks May See Further Upside On Chinese GDP Data

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Following the rally seen over the course of the previous session, stocks are likely to see some further upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 87 points.

The continued upward momentum on Wall Street has been widely attributed to Chinese GDP data even though the latest report showed China's economy grew at the slowest pace since 1990.

The report from China's National Bureau of Statistics said Chinese GDP grew by 6.1 percent in 2019 compared to the 6.6 percent growth seen in 2018.

However, the GDP growth matched economist estimates, which seems to have allowed global traders to breathe a sigh of relief that the impact of the U.S.-China trade war was not worse than feared.

More upbeat U.S. economic data may also generate buying interest, with a report from the Commerce Department showing a substantial increase in U.S. housing starts in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said housing starts skyrocketed by 16.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.608 million in December after jumping by 2.6 percent to a revised rate of 1.375 million in November.

The surge came as a big surprise to economists, who had expected housing starts to rise by 0.7 percent to a rate of 1.375 million from the 1.365 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the much bigger than expected increase, housing starts soared to their highest level since hitting a rate of 1.649 million in December of 2006.

Meanwhile, the report said building permits tumbled by 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.416 million in December after climbing by 0.9 percent to a revised rate of 1.474 million in November.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to slide by 0.9 percent to a rate of 1.468 million from the 1.482 million originally reported for the previous month.

The Federal Reserve is due to release its report on industrial production in the month of December just before the start of trading. Industrial production is expected to dip by 0.2 percent in December after jumping by 1.1 percent in November.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in the month of January. The consumer sentiment index is expected to come in unchanged at 99.3.

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday, adding to the modest gains posted in the previous session. With the continued upward move, the major averages climbed to new record closing highs.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 267.42 points or 0.9 percent to 29,297.64, the Nasdaq spiked 98.44 points or 1.1 percent to 9,357.13 and the S&P 500 surged up 27.52 points or 0.8 percent to 3,316.81.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has risen by 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both jumping by 1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising $0.31 to $58.83 a barrel after climbing $0.71 to $58.52 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after sliding $3.50 to $1,550.50 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are advancing $6.40 to $1,556.90 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.19 yen versus the 110.16 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1101 compared to yesterday's $1.1137.

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