Investing.com – Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Tuesday, December 18:
1. U.S. Futures Point to Higher Open
U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open, suggesting that Wall Street’s three major indexes would bounce back from the rout a day earlier.
At 5:35AM ET (10:35 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 90 points, or around 0.4%, the S&P 500 futures rose 10 points, or about 0.4%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 33 points, or roughly 0.5%.
The move in premarket comes after Wall Street tumbled more than 2% on Monday, extending the worst start to a December since 1980.
Elsewhere, markets in Europe were mostly lower, with oil stocks leading the decline.
Earlier, Asian shares sank, with Japan’s Nikkei losing 1.8% to close at its lowest since late March. A speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which investors had hoped could lift morale, had no impact.
2. U.S. Dollar, Treasury Yields Drop
Away from equities, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, slumped 0.25% to 96.30, not far from the lowest level since late November.
The greenback was weaker against the yen, with USD/JPY losing 0.4% to trade at 112.37 as risk aversion underpinned safe haven demand.
The euro pushed higher, with EUR/USD rising 0.3% to 1.1385.
The pound was also higher, with GBP/USD advancing 0.3% to 1.2657 amid an ongoing political deadlock over Britain’s efforts to exit the European Union.
In the bond market, U.S. Treasury yields inched lower, with the benchmark 10-year note slipping to 2.83%, the lowest since August, while the yield on U.S. government bonds with 2-year maturities dipped to a three-month low of 2.67%.
3. Oil Prices Plunge
In commodities, oil prices plunged, dropping for a third consecutive session as reports of swelling inventories and forecasts of record U.S. and Russian output combined with a sharp sell-off in global stock markets.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures sank by as much as $2.04, or 4.1%, to a low of $47.84, its weakest since September 2017, before recovering to around $48.61.
International Brent crude oil futures fell $2.41, or 4%, to a 14-month low of $57.23. It last traded at $57.87.
Both crude oil benchmarks have shed more than 30% since early October due to swelling global inventories.
The American Petroleum Institute is due to release its weekly report for the week ended December 14 at 4:30PM ET (21:30 GMT), amid expectations of a drop of about 2.5 million barrels.
4. Fed Kicks Off Policy Meeting
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins its two-day policy meeting today, with a decision due Wednesday afternoon.
The U.S. central bank is widely expected to announce its fourth and final rate hike of 2018, but more importantly, investors will be watching for signals on its plans for next year.
While policymakers have pointed to three increases in 2019, the market is starting to bet the U.S. central bank may halt its rate hikes altogether as risks to the U.S. economy mount.
Fears that the Fed may be too hasty with tightening policy has spooked markets this month.
U.S. President Donald Trump took aim at the Fed again on Monday, saying in a tweet that “it is incredible” that the central bank was “even considering yet another interest rate hike” amid the “outside world blowing up around us.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro amplified those remarks a few hours later, calling the Fed “crazy” for having signaled that it would continue to raise rates next year.
Read more: Fed Preview: Powell’s Dilemma, To Hike Rates While Reassuring On Economy: Darrell Delamaide
5. U.S. Housing Data
On the data front, the Commerce Department at 8:30AM ET (13:30 GMT) is expected to report building permits fell 0.4% in November to 1.259 million units.
Housing starts, meanwhile, are expected to drop 0.2% to 1.225 million units.
Recent data has painted a worrying picture of the U.S. housing market, which is struggling with rising mortgage rates and tight inventory.