Wall Street is set to open modestly higher Thursday, although weakness in European stocks and a cautious session in Asia suggest investors aren't quite ready to return to equities following three days of intense volatility that has rocked markets around the world.
Early indications from U.S. futures prices suggest a modestly positive start to the session later today, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 92 points higher from their Wednesday close while those linked to the broader S&P 500 were seen 9.5 points, or 0.36%, to the upside. As with previous sessions this week, however, the elevated levels of the CBOE's (VIX.X) index, which closed at 27.19 points last night, suggest significant swings in futures are still likely prior to -- and after -- the opening bell.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index slipped 0.15% in the opening 45 minutes of trading amid a broader investor caution from this week's market volatility and a host of blue chip corporate earnings and the February policy meeting of the Bank of England at noon London time. Regional stocks did, however, find from weakness in both the pound and the euro, both of which fell against the U.S. dollar after Senate leaders reached a tentative deal to fund the U.S. government for a further two years that would include an extra $300 million in spending.
The potential increase to the country's already swelling deficit, along with increasing signals of faster inflation in the world's biggest economy, has U.S. Treasury yields on the rise, with benchmark 10-year notes hitting 2.84% in overnight Asia trade.
That also helped the dollar index, a measure of the greenback's strength against a basket of six global currencies, rise 0.7% from yesterday's early session lows to trade at 90.22 in early European dealing, pushing the euro to 1.2275 and the pound to 1.3906.
Overnight in Asia, stocks in Japan benefited from a stronger dollar as exporters gained to helped the benchmark rise 1.18% by the end of the session to close at 21, 890.86 points. Regional stocks were strong, as well, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gaining 0.3% thanks in part to much-stronger-than-expected trade data from China.
China's exports grew 11% in January from the same period last year, customs data indicated, while imports into the world's second-largest economy surged an astonishing 36.9%, providing more than enough evidence that Xi Jingping's new five-year economic plan hasn't throttled growth.
Global oil prices, however, extended declines from yesterday's one-month lows amid the dollar's rebound, and despite China data showing imports rose to a record 40.64 million barrels in January, or 9.57 million per day, as the economy continues to hum.
Brent crude contracts for April delivery were marked 15 cents lower at $65.37 per barrel while WTI contracts for the same months were seen around 28 cents lower at $61.57.