Stocks - U.S. Futures Trade Higher Ahead of Consumer Confidence

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Stocks - U.S. Futures Trade Higher Ahead of Consumer Confidence
Credit: © Reuters. - U.S. futures pointed to a higher open on Friday with the Dow on track for its seventh consecutive session of gains as earnings season winded down and investors shifted thier attention to a reading of consumer confidence.

The blue-chip Dow futures gained 53 points, or 0.21%, by 6:53AM ET (10:53GMT), the S&P 500 futures rose 6 points, or 0.21%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures traded up 8 points, or 0.12%

As the last wave of first quarter earnings season winds down this week, with the only notable release on Friday coming from Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI ), tech shares limited gains.

Nvidia reported numbers after Thursday’s close that beat on both the top and bottom lines, supported by strong growth in its datacenter and gaming divisions. However, despite the positive numbers, the chipmakers’ shares (NASDAQ: NVDA ) dropped around 2% in pre-market trade on Friday. They had closed at a record high of $260.13 on Thursday prior to the release.

Meanwhile, shares in Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC ) tanked more than 20% in pre-market trade Friday. Sales and profit beat consensus but guidance was weak and the cybersecurity firm disclosed an internal investigation and that it has voluntarily contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company warned that the investigation could lead to updates of its financial results and guidance.

Stock investors will also keep an eye on political developments as U.S. President Donald Trump will reveal his long-awaited plan to lower drug prices on Friday afternoon.

The pharmaceutical and healthcare sector will likely be on edge given past remarks from the President that they were “getting away with murder” in reference to the high costs of name-brands. Trump apparently intends to reveal strategies bring down U.S. drug prices and reduce the amount people pay out of pocket for their medications.

Furthermore, the President will meet 10 major automakers at the White House on Friday to discuss the fate of landmark fuel efficiency standards and a looming confrontation with California and other major states.

On the economic front, investors will focus on the University of Michigan’s preliminary reading of consumer confidence in May due out at 10:00AM ET (14:00GMT).

Import and export prices for April will be released at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT).

Also on the docket, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard will deliver a speech on the economy and monetary policy in a conference at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT).

Meanwhile, oil prices hovered near three-and-a-half year highs on Friday as the prospect of new U.S. sanctions on Iran tightened the outlook for Middle East supply at a time when global crude production is only just keeping pace with rising demand.

U.S. crude futures gained 0.15% to $71.47 by 6:55AM ET (10:55GMT), while Brent oil dropped 0.08% to $77.41.

Market participants turned their attention to the weekly installment of drilling activity from Baker Hughes after last week’s data showed that U.S. drillers added nine oil rigs, bringing the total count to 834 , the highest number since March 2015.

Traders remain concerned that rising U.S. shale output could offset OPEC-led attempts to curb production in order to reduce the global supply glut.

Elsewhere, European stocks were mostly lower in midday trade on Friday, turning negative after a slightly positive open. Investors seemed unwilling to continue buying going into the weekend despite mostly positive earnings and more deal-making. Even with Friday’s dip, the pan-European Stoxx 600 was still headed for its seventh week of increases, the longest streak in more than three years.

Earlier, Asian shares closed mostly higher on Friday as investors' appetite for riskier assets got a boost from soft U.S. inflation released a day earlier, which helped alleviate worries of faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, and showed optimism over the announcement that U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet in Singapore on June 12. Japan’s Nikkei finished with gains of 1.2%.

Chinese stocks broke the general trend as the Shanghai Composite ended 0.4% lower. Traders continued to be concerned about ongoing trade tensions. U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in Washington for a second round of trade talks next week.

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