Futures rise as investors cheer trade progress

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday as new signs of progress in trade relations between the United States and China comforted markets, which have been rankled by a prolonged stand off between the world’s two largest economies. The S&P 500 .SPX closed on Thursday within striking distance of a record high last hit in July, as trade concessions from Beijing and Washington helped stocks recover from a sluggish start to the week. U.S. President Donald Trump calmed markets further after he said he was potentially open to an interim trade deal with China, although he preferred a comprehensive agreement. On Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the country would exempt some U.S. pork and soybeans from additional tariffs on U.S. goods. Concerns still linger about the long-term effect of the trade war that has hit U.S. manufacturing and tempered global growth. The International Monetary Fund forecast the tit-for-tat tariffs could reduce global GDP in 2020 by 0.8%. Investors are now keeping an eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve for a decision on interest rate cuts next week, especially after the European Central Bank announced a sweeping stimulus drive on Thursday to prop up the euro zone economy. With recessionary fears high for countries across the Atlantic, U.S. market participants are closely monitoring every indicator of domestic economic health. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department is expected to report a 0.2% increase in August retail sales, after a surge of 0.7% in July. Lower-than-expected figures might increase bets of a rate cut from the Fed. Traders currently see an 88.8% chance of a quarter percentage point cut from the Fed this month, down from 90% a week ago, according to CME’s FedWatch. At 7:11 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 111 points, or 0.41%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 10.75 points, or 0.36% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 33 points, or 0.42%.

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