In what is expected to be a thinly traded pre-Thanksgiving session, stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open for Wall Street on Wednesday, Nov. 22, as stocks aimed to continue record-setting gains from a day earlier.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 40 points, or 0.17%, S&P 500 futures increased about 3 points, or 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures rose about 9 points, or 0.14%. All three major indexes notched record intraday and closing prices on Tuesday, Nov. 21, as strength in healthcare and tech bolstered investor optimism. Stocks have traded higher in three of the last four sessions.
Global oil prices flirted with two-year highs on Wednesday as an expected dip in domestic production combined with ongoing disruptions to imports from Canada lifted markets ahead of next week's OPEC summit in Vienna.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures for December delivery popped higher by 1.79% to $57.85 a barrel in trading early Wednesday, leaving prices just shy of their two-year high of a little more than $58. International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $63.23, up 1.05%.
Energy stocks were gaining on oil's strong rally early Wednesday. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report increased 0.74%. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.A) gained 1% and BP PLC (BP) - Get Report rose 1.2% in premarket trading. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) - Get Report rose 0.4%.
Durable goods orders in October declined 1.2% vs. an expected 0.3% increase. Ex-transportation, durable goods orders in the U.S. increased 0.4%, just shy of analysts' expectation of a 0.5% increase. In the previous month, durable goods orders increased 2%.
Weekly jobless claims declined 13,000 to 239,000. Wall Street had expected 240,000 claims. The decline in jobless claims came after two consecutive weeks of increases, suggesting steady job growth.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday also includes Oil Inventories for the week ended Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m., and minutes from the Nov. 1 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m. The Fed's minutes are widely expected to show that the bank is poised to raise interest rates at its Dec. 12-Dec. 13 meeting.
Family dinner Thursday evening might bring some drama, but don't look for the same in equities markets ahead of Thanksgiving. Traders will manage a somewhat boring day Wednesday ahead of the holiday. Markets will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23, and will open for a half-day of trading until 1 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 24.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) - Get Report fell 6.3% in premarket trading on Wednesday, making it the S&P 500's biggest laggard. The enterprise IT giant announced that CEO Meg Whitman would be stepping down at the end of January and guided for fiscal first-quarter earnings below analysts' expectations.
Deere & Co. (DE) - Get Report shares jumped 4.6% in premarket Wednesday, indicating shares will open at a record high as the company reported profit and sales that topped expectations for its fiscal fourth quarter. Deere reported earnings of $1.57 a share, 10 cents higher than FactSet analysts expected. Revenue increased 23% to $8.02 billion, topping Wall Street's forecast of $7.92 billion. The company said it expects its fiscal first-quarter equipment sales will surge 38% from a year ago as South American demand grows.
According to TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa, Whitman's departure wasn't too shocking. Jhonsa wrote that Whitman reportedly had begun making plans to leave HPE and that she had interviewed for the top job at Uber Technologies Inc. over the summer.
Whitman will be replaced by Antonio Neri, HPE's president and a senior company executive since 2011.
Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY) called off its planned merger with Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. (AXTA) - Get Report amid reports that Japan's Nippon Paint Holdings Co. (NPCPF) has swooped in with an all-cash bid for the Warren Buffett-backed group. A report from Reuters had linked Nippon, the country's biggest paintmaker, to a potential $8.2 billion play for Axalta, which had confirmed merger talks with the beleaguered Akzo Nobel only three weeks ago.
Axalta shares surged 4.78% in premarket trading on Wednesday. In a statement published late Tuesday, Akzo Nobel said the collapse of the talks wouldn't affect plans to split its business.
Rockwell Automation Inc. (ROK) - Get Report announced Wednesday that its board has unanimously rejected an unsolicited takeover bid from Emerson Electric Co. (EMR) - Get Report in order to keep the best interest of shareholders intact.
"Emerson's proposal undervalues Rockwell Automation and its prospects for continued growth and value creation, presents significant long-term risk for Rockwell Automation's shareowners, and would create a company that is not well-positioned to compete successfully in the evolving market," Rockwell said in a statement.
Rockwell shares were down 0.79% in premarket trading, while Emerson was up 1.06%.
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