Stock futures higher as Wall St's post-Christmas rally continues

Stock futures higher as Wall St's post-Christmas rally continues

USA stocks staged a furious late-afternoon rally Thursday, closing with gains after erasing a 600-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The defensive consumer staples and real estate stocks rose 0.81 percent and 0.65 percent, respectively, to lead the gainers among 11 major S&P sectors.

The S&P 500 index and Nasdaq, meanwhile, both recorded small gains Thursday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 25.14 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,579.49. Technology stocks (.SPLRCT), whose index-weight has a heavy influence on the market, see-sawed through the day, and were last up 0.11 percent. The benchmark S&P 500 tested its 20-month low and was at the brink of a bear market territory early in the week before the three main indexes roared back, with their biggest daily surge in almost a decade on Wednesday and a late rally the following day.

Wednesday's gains pulled the S&P 500 back from the brink of what Wall Street calls a bear market - a 20 percent tumble from an index's peak.

"With two trading sessions left before year end, the indices are likely to be supported by window dressing and technical factors", said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in NY. Brent crude, used to price global oils, turned lower, shedding 0.5 per cent to $52.45 a barrel in London.

Technology stocks, which had powered the rally earlier this year and were at the center of the recent pullback, were flat. The market remains on track for its worst December since 1931, during the depths of the Depression, and could finish 2018 with its biggest losses in a decade. The Dow has dropped 1 per cent or more in eight of the last 17 trading sessions.

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The CBOE Volatility Index.VIX, an indicator of short-term volatility in the stock market, rose to 36 midweek, its highest level since early February. -China trade tensions, rising interest rates and a cooling economy to a partial USA government shutdown, which is now in its sixth day.

Perrigo gave up 6.6 per cent to US$38, one of the big decliners in the health care sector. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held at 2.74 per cent. Higher mortgage rates and prices are squeezing would-be buyers out of the market, especially in the West. Beazer Homes USA dropped 1.7 per cent to $9.53. Goldman Sachs declined 0.6 percent to $161.92 as the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.75 percent from 2.79 percent late Wednesday. Noble Energy slid 5.1 per cent to US$18.10.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 3.5 percent to settle at $44.61 a barrel in NY.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 110.39 yen from Thursday's 110.74 yen. The euro strengthened to US$1.1444 from US$1.1351. Marathon Petroleum slid 0.9 percent to $57.81.

The slide in US markets followed a sell-off in major indexes in Europe.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 1.7 per cent and France's CAC 40 added 1.6 per cent. London's FTSE 100 gained 2 per cent. The Hang Seng index fell 0.7 per cent and Australia's S&P-ASX 200 jumped 1.9 per cent. Stocks climbed in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.

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