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US Equities Open Higher as Traders Shrug off US-China Trade War

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Thursday, with stocks likely to see further upside after ending the previous session mostly higher.

The upward momentum on Wall Street comes as traders continue to shrug off concerns about the escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon sought to downplay the trade dispute in comments to CNBC-TV18, calling it a ?trade skirmish? rather than a trade war.

Upbeat economic data may also generate some positive sentiment, with a report from the Labor Department showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly dipped to their lowest level in nearly fifty years in the week ended September 15th.

Stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Wednesday, although the Dow climbed to its best closing level in nearly eight months. The broader Nasdaq and S&P 500 ended the day roughly flat.

The major averages ended the session mixed. While the Nasdaq edged down 6.07 points or 0.1 percent to 7,950.04, the Dow advanced 158.60 points or 0.6 percent to 26,405.76 and the S&P 500 inched up 3.64 points or 0.1 percent to 2,907.95.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came amid lingering concerns about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

Traders largely shrugged off the escalating trade war on Tuesday, but uncertainty about the impact on the global economy is likely to continue to weigh on their minds.

With the widely anticipated tariff announcements in the rear-view mirror, traders may also have been looking ahead to next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by another quarter point, although traders are likely to keep a close eye on the accompanying statement for clues about future rate hikes.

Meanwhile, the Dow benefited from strong gains by financial giants Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) as well as heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar (CAT).

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department showed a sharp increase in new residential construction in the U.S. in the month of August, although the report also showed a steep drop in building permits during the month.

The Commerce Department said housing starts spiked by 9.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.282 million in August from the revised July estimate of 1.174 million.

Economists had expected housing starts to jump by 5.7 percent to a rate of 1.235 million from the 1.168 million originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said building permits tumbled by 5.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.229 million in August from a revised 1.303 million in July.

Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to edge down by 0.1 percent to a rate of 1.310 million from the 1.311 million originally reported for the previous month.

Gold stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.3 percent. The rally by gold stocks came amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

Significant strength also emerged among banking stocks, which benefited from a continued increase in treasury yields. Reflecting the strength in the sector, the KBW Bank Index jumped by 2 percent.

Oil service stocks also saw considerable strength, moving higher along with the price of crude oil. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index surged up by 1.9 percent.

Natural gas, brokerage, and chemical stocks also moved notably higher on the day, while interest rate-sensitive utilities and commercial real estate stocks came under pressure.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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