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Stocks - Wall Street to Continue Higher; Housing Data Eyed

By Peter Nurse

Investing.com - U.S. stock markets are set to open higher Friday, with investors reveling in a combination of healthy corporate earnings, diminished external growth risks and healthy domestic economic data.

Futures for theS&P 500 were trading 8 points, or 0.3%, higher by 11:55 AM ET (11:55 GMT), futures for the NASDAQ Composite were 34 points, or 0.4%, higher, while the Dow Jones 30 futures contract was up 80 points, or 0.3%.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 0.9%. All three major averages ended the day in record territory, while a total of 64 S&P 500 components hit all-time highs.

The threat of a trade war between the globe’s two largest economic powers has been lessened with the signing of the Sino-U.S. deal and the latest Chinese growth data suggest its slowdown may have come to an end. Thus investors have turned their attention to more domestic matters.

The earnings season has been pretty healthy so far, although it’s been the banking sector which has mainly reported. Additionally, Wednesday’s retail sales suggested the U.S. consumer remains buoyant.

Focus will now turn to Friday’s batch of economic data releases.

The housing market will kick things off, with the December measure of housing starts and building permits due at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT).

At 9:15 AM ET, the Fed will release December figures on industrial production and capacity utilization, and the University of Michigan will report its preliminary measure of January consumer sentiment at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT). At the same time the Labor Department issues its November job openings numbers.

There’ll also be speeches from Philly Fed President Patrick Harker at 9 AM and banking supervision head Randal Quarles at 12:45 PM.

Financial earnings keep on arriving, with State Street (NYSE:STT) hoping to continue the strong numbers the majority of the banks have reported. Elsewhere, energy services giant Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) reported revenue and earnings both slightly ahead of expectations.

At 5:00 AM ET (12:00 GMT), U.S. crude futures traded 0.6% higher at $58.88 and the international benchmark Brent contract rose 0.7% to $65.08. Gold futures for February delivery on New York’s COMEX climbed 0.4% to $1,556.25.

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