MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow, S&P 500 Ready To Power To New Records On Fresh Tax-plan Optimism

By Barbara Kollmeyer and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Bitcoin debuts on CME exchange, opens above $20,000

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Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed more than 100 points on Monday, with indexes poised for fresh records on growing confidence the Republicans will succeed in getting a major tax bill passed this week.

What are futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 105 points, or 0.4%, to 24,783, while those for the S&P 500 index gained 7.5 points, or 0.3%, to 2,689.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 Index jumped 27.75 points, or 0.4%, to 6,525.50.

All three benchmarks scored new closing highs on Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-sp-set-for-4th-week-of-gains-as-traders-shake-off-tax-worries-2017-12-15), driven by optimism over the tax-cut legislation. The Dow average closed up 0.6% to 24,651.74, the S&P gained 0.9% to close at 2,675.81, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.2% to 6,936.58.

The Dow and the S&P 500 have now booked weekly gains for the past four straight weeks.

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What's driving the markets?

Speaking on several Sunday talk shows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has "no doubt" (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mnuchin-says-no-doubt-congress-will-pass-tax-bill-this-week-2017-12-17) that the GOP's tax bill will make it to the desk of President Donald Trump this week. Optimism that the Republicans will have the votes they need for passage built last week after two holdouts, Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida, pledged their support for the tax overhaul.

Read:Here's what's in the Republican tax deal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-whats-in-the-republican-tax-deal-2017-12-13)

However, there remains a slim 52-48 Senate Republican majority. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is expected to miss the vote (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sen-john-mccain-wont-vote-on-republican-tax-bill-report-2017-12-17) as he's returning to his home state for physical therapy and rehabilitation linked to a brain tumor that was diagnosed over the summer.

Investors are also looking out for a speech later Monday from Trump, who is expected to announce a new national security strategy, according to media reports.

What are analysts saying?

"U.S. companies labeled 'Made in USA' will be the biggest beneficiaries of the new tax cuts -- mainly oil refiners, airlines, and banks. Many corporates in this sector will see earnings boosted significantly, with some adding 30% to 2018. This is not only good news for these corporates but it also makes current overstretched valuations look more realistic," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.

"What will be interesting to see is whether asset managers will rotate heavily from multinational firms to more U.S.-based revenue companies, for the few remaining days of 2017," he added.

"President Trump is scheduled to deliver a national security speech on Monday that may 'point a finger' at certain countries' attempts of economic aggression towards the U.S. Such comments tend to 'stoke the fire' and result in further rhetoric that can cause market volatility," said analysts at FxPro in a note.

What are other markets doing?

The dollar slipped back against most other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index down 0.2% at 93.780. The greenback advanced on Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-edges-higher-but-remains-on-track-for-weekly-decline-2017-12-15) on increased optimism the Republican tax bill will get approved before Christmas.

The tax hopes also drove Asian stock markets higher on Monday, while European stocks opened with solid gains.

Oil prices moved firmly higher, while gold was up 0.1% at $1,259.20 an ounce.

Bitcoin made its debut on the world's biggest future exchange, the CME Group (https://dowjones.slack.com/messages/D1C77N44F/)(CME), on Sunday, opening above $20,000. The January contract was down 1.3% at $19,240 on Monday morning.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2017 03:52 ET (08:52 GMT)