Wall St. set for strong 2020 start on China stimulus, trade hopes


(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were set to start the year on a strong note on Thursday as fresh stimulus from Beijing to prop up its slowing economy added to the optimism over easing trade tensions and an improving global outlook.

All three major U.S. stock indexes ended higher on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said an initial U.S.-China trade pact would be signed on Jan. 15. Trump also said he would travel to Beijing to begin talks on the next phase.

Expectations of an initial trade deal, robust U.S. economic data and a loose monetary policy by some of the world’s most influential central banks had powered a rally on Wall Street in December.

“Trade continues to be a driver for this market,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

“We’re trying to figure out when news about trade gets baked in, but talks about Phase 2 shows that this isn’t a one and done sort of thing to just repair the damage of the trade war of last year.”

The benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX signed off on the last decade with its strongest December since 2010, while the Nasdaq briefly traded above the 9,000 mark.

China’s central bank said on Wednesday it would cut the amount of cash that all banks must hold as reserves, the eighth such cut since early 2018, injecting fresh stimulus into the economy. The decision also lifted stock markets in Asia and Europe.

At 08:41 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 165 points, or 0.58%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 19.25 points, or 0.6%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 73.75 points, or 0.84%.

Latest data from the U.S. Labor Department showed that the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits edged lower last week, a positive signal for the labor market amid recent signs that new claims may be trending slightly higher.

IHS Markit’s final manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), set to be released at 9:45 a.m. ET, is expected to show a reading of 49 last month, higher than 48.1 in November. Readings below 50 denote contraction.

Among premarket movers, Hanesbrands Inc (HBI.N) slipped 1.8% after a report that Wells Fargo has downgraded the apparel maker’s shares to “underweight”.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva