The Friday Market Minute

  • Global stocks gain as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touts "constructive" trade talks with Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing.
  • U.S. Treasury curve inversion between 3-month bills and 10-year notes narrows as global bond yields edge modestly higher, but softer European inflation readings continue to apply downward pressure.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will bring a watered-down version of her twice-defeated Withdrawal Agreement for one final vote in Parliament Friday on the day Britain had been planning to leave the European for two years.
  • Lyft prepares for its Nasdaq debut Friday with a higher-than-expected IPO price of $72 a share, a level that raises $2.34 billion and values the ride-hailing group at $24 billion.
  • U.S. equity futures suggest a solid open on Wall Street amid the strongest quarterly start since 2009 and ahead of key spending and inflation data at 8:30 am Eastern Time.

Market Snapshot

Global stocks traded higher Friday, lifting U.S. equity markets towards their best opening quarter gain in a decade, as investors crept back into risk markets amid progress in U.S.-China trade talks, modestly higher fixed income yields and the opening trade of the biggest IPO since 2014.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said through his verified social media account Friday that talks with Vice Premier Liu He and the China trade team in Beijing were "constructive", adding Liu would travel to Washington next week to move the discussions forward.

China shares surged on prior reports of trade talk progress, with the Shanghai Composite rising 3.2% and the tech-heavy CSI 300 rising 3.68%, moves which collectively supported a 0.72% gain for the Asia-wide MSCI ex-Japan benchmark. 

U.S. equity futures look set to extend those gains, as well as a strong open for European stocks, into the final trading session of the first quarter later today, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating a 125 point gain and those linked to the S&P 500 suggesting a 13.5 point advance for the broader benchmark.

Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Report shares were indicated 2%$ higher after CEO Tim Sloan said he would step down after just three years at the helm as the bank attempts to put years of scandals and political criticism behind it by seeking an outsider to lead the fourth largest U.S. lender.

AstraZeneca plc (AZN) - Get Report shares traded 6.2% lower, near the bottom of the London market, after the drugmaker agreed a potential $6.9 billion deal with Japan's Daiichi Sankyo Co. to develop and market a breast and gastric cancer treatment over the coming years.

The Nasdaq Composite Index, meanwhile, is slated to open 40 points to the upside, a move that would extend the tech-focused benchmark's quarter-to-date gain past 15.8%, an advance that leads the three major indices in the best first quarter since 2009. The Dow has gained just over 10.25% since the start of the year, held down in part by the 737 MAX 8-related 11.4% slump for Boeing Inc. (BA) - Get Report , while the S&P 500 has risen 12.3%, paced by Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) - Get Report year-to-date gain of around 20%.

Investor sentiment is likely to get a further boost alongside the solid 2019 start with the first trade of ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc. (LYFT) - Get Report , which debuts on the Nasdaq later today. Lyft priced 32.5 million shares at $72 each, a level that raises just over $2.3 billion for the San Francisco, California-based group and values the rival to Uber Technologies at around $24 billion.

European stocks were firmly higher by mid-day trading in Frankfurt, with investors riding both a weaker euro, which drifted to 1.1230 against the U.S. dollar, and U.S.-China trade talk progress to take the Stoxx 600 0.58% into the green for a quarterly gain of 12.2%.

Britain's FTSE 100, whose constituents earn around 75% of their revenues outside of the United Kingdom, rose 0.3% as the pound edged to 1.3090 ahead of yet another "make-or-break" Brexit vote later tonight in Parliament. 

Global oil prices edged modestly higher amid the 'risk-on' sentiment in global markets, with traders reversing some of yesterday's declines following a Tweet from President Donald Trump that urged OPEC members to ""increase the flow" of crude as world prices remain close to four-month highs.

The President has Tweeted his displeasure with OPEC on no fewer than nine separate occasions over the past year, calling cartel a "monopoly", even as it production rates are only marginally higher than that of the United States, and accusing member states of relying on U.S. military protection while simultaneously driving up prices.

Brent crude contracts for May delivery, the global benchmark for oil prices, were marked 89 cents higher from their Thursday close in New York and changing hands at $68.71 per barrel in early dealing while WTI contracts for the same month were seen 90 cents lower at $60.20 per barrel as the U.S. dollar index eased 0.08% to 97.12