U.S. equity futures pointed to early opening gains on Wall Street Wednesday, following a mixed session for global stocks underpinned by concern over the prospects of a global trade war following the firing of Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State and reports of new tariffs targeted specifically at China.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 83 points higher than their Tuesday close, indicating an opening bell gain for the benchmark of around 100 points. Futures linked to the broader S&P 500 were also firmer, rising 8.75 points, or 0.32%, following last nights 17.7 point decline that was triggered by the surprise sacking of Tillerson -- reportedly via Twitter -- by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Ford Motor Co. (F) shares were a notable pre-market mover, rising sharply in pre-market trading following the first upgrade for the American carmaker by Morgan Stanley in nearly four years.
Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas lifted his rating on Ford two notches, to "overweight" with a price target of $15 per share and noted that President Donald Trump's mooted infrastructure plans could support the automarker's near-term earnings. He also suggested that Ford could surprise investors to the upside if its turnaround story improves and cost cut and market repositioning moves are successful.
Ford shares were marked 4.08% higher in pre-market trading in New York Wednesday, indicating an opening bell price of $11.22 each, a move that would trim its year-to-date decline to around 10.5%.
European stocks were also higher on the session, thanks in part of a softer euro, which fell 0.20% to 1.2371 against a weakened U.S. dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the path of inflation in the single currency area isn't firm enough yet to contemplate major changes to the Bank's monetary policy.
"There is a very clear condition for us to bring net asset purchases to an end: we need to see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation towards our aim, which is a headline inflation rate of below, but close to 2% over the medium term," Draghi told an audience in Frankfurt. "While we are now more confident than in the past that inflation is on the right track, risks and uncertainties remain (and) monetary policy still needs to be patient, persistent and prudent to guarantee the return of inflation to our aim."
The Stoxx Europe 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, was marked 0.28% to the upside at 376.59 points by mid-day in Frankfurt as benchmarks in Germany and France gained on the euro's decline. Britain's FTSE 100 was also in the green, rising 0.26% thanks to a modestly weaker pound, which slipped 0.14% to 1.3948 against the greenback.
Adidas AG (ADDYY) surged the most in seven months Wednesday after the German sportswear giant posted a mixed set of fourth quarter and full year earnings but announced a €3 billion share buyback and boosted its annual dividend.
Adidas shares were marked 7.05% higher in the opening hour of trading in Frankfurt to change hands a €183.75 each, the highest since Jan. 31. The move extends the stock's year-to-date gain to around 9.8%, topping the 5.8% advance for rival Nike Inc. (NKE) over the same period.
Overnight in Asia, stocks were on the back foot throughout the session following Tuesday's surprise dismissal of Tillerson, who was seen as a moderate voice on trade and foreign relations inside the White House, and report from Reuters that Trump is targeting consumer technology and telecoms goods from China with a series of tariffs that could hit $60 billion in goods from the world's second largest economy.
The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 0.45% into the close of trading while Japan's Nikkei 225 benchmark gave back 0.87% by the end of trading to close at 21, 777.29 points.
Global oil prices were softer in early European trading, ahead of U.S. stockpile and output data from the Energy Information Administration later in the session, with Brent crude contracts for May delivery slipping around 6 cents from their New York close to $64.58 per barrel and WTI contracts for April delivery falling 5 cents to $60.66 per barrel.
Bitcoin was also active in European dealing after Google said it would stop running ads for initial coin offerings and trading platforms, a move that mimics a similar ban announced by Facebook earlier this year.
Bitcoins were marked at $8,740 each on the bitstamp exchange in Luxembourg, which feeds prices into the CME Group futures contract, after hitting a one-month low of $8,662.75