U.S. Stock Futures Gain as Negotiators Vow Effort on Trade Deal

U.S. stock index futures rose after China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that top trade negotiators of the two nations vowed to create favorable conditions for the implementation of a phase-one trade deal.

Contracts on the S&P 500 rose 1.1% as of 12:02 p.m. in Tokyo, while futures climbed 1.1% on the Nasdaq 100 Index and 1.2% on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. China’s Vice Premier Liu He talked with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone on Friday Beijing time, according to Xinhua. The two sides pledged to cooperate on the economy and public health, the report said.

“Given the recent rising tensions between the U.S. and China surrounding Covid-19, investors are likely comforted to see that both sides are still working toward implementing the phase-one deal,” said Takeo Kamai, head of execution services at CLSA Securities Japan. “Disruption in the trade front would’ve added another level of anxiety and put us right back to the central issue for the markets in 2019.”

The gains in equity futures added to bullish sentiment that drove shares higher on Wall Street on Thursday. The underlying S&P 500 rallied 1.15% with speculation mounting that the worst of the economic damage from the virus has passed as more of the country reopens.

Filings for unemployment remained at historically high levels, but fell from the prior week. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite turned positive for the year, wiping out losses that reached as much as 24% at the depths of the pandemic-fueled sell-off.

“Although one fails to see how the phase-one trade deal implementation report will be music to the ears of the U.S. administration, seeing the latest trade statistics between U.S. and China, the engagement expected between the two sides has nevertheless calmed some nerves for the market,” Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. in Singapore, wrote in a research note.

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