US stocks set for a mixed to positive open as trade concerns rumble on

March 15, 2018

U.S. stock index futures posted slight gains ahead of Thursday’s open, as investors tried to shake off concerns surrounding global trade.

At around 7:15 a.m. ET, Dow futures were up 20 points, indicating a rise of 17.88 points at the open. The Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 futures pointed to a slightly lower open.

The moves in premarket trade come after Wall Street saw a choppy trading day on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing almost 250 points down, after starting the session over 100 points higher. Shares of Boeing were under pressure, in particular, as concerns that a trade war could occur between the U.S. and China came to the surface.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed two declarations which would implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — both of which are expected to take effect in the coming weeks.

While Canada and Mexico are exempt from the deal, fears over a potential trade war remain, as investors worry that countries around the world may strike back. A report has also emerged stating that Trump could slap $60 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods.

Switching focus to Thursday’s session, a slew of data are expected to be released. At 8:30 a.m. ET, jobless claims, and import prices are due, along with the Empire State manufacturing survey and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey.

At 10 a.m. ET the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is slated to come out, followed by Treasury International Capital (TIC) data at 4 p.m. ET.

Not a Scientific Survey. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.

Looking to the political sphere, Trump is due to welcome the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, to the White House. Meantime, Larry Kudlow is expected to take the job of top economic advisor, replacing Gary Cohn. On Wednesday, Kudlow and the White House confirmed the economist and senior CNBC contributor accepted the post of National Economic Council director.

Looking to commodities, oil prices were under pressure in morning trade after an IEA report was released, which stated that Venezuela would likely remain the biggest risk factor among the top oil producers for a while to come.

No speeches by members of the U.S. central bank are scheduled to take place.

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