MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow On Track For 25,000 Milestone As Global Stock Rally Stays Strong

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Private-sector jobs data are due ahead of the bell

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U.S. stocks were poised to notch fresh record highs on Thursday, with stock futures rising across the board and setting the Dow average within touching distance of the 25,000 milestone, as the global rally showed no signs of tapering off.

Ahead of the market open, the private-sector jobs report is likely to grab trader attention, coming just a day before the top-tier nonfarm payrolls data.

What are stock futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 88 points, or 0.4%, to 24,966, after the blue-chip benchmark closed at record of 24,922.68 on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-flirts-with-fresh-records-as-traders-wait-for-fed-minutes-2018-01-03). That means an 88-point advance on Thursday would be enough to push the index above the 25,000 handle.

S&P 500 index futures rose 5.10 points, or 0.2%, to 2,716, while Nasdaq-100 index futures added 17.25 points, or 0.3%, to 6,601.75.

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index also scored all-time closing highs on Wednesday, rising 0.6% and 0.8%, respectively.

What's driving the market?

U.S. stock markets have risen on every single day of the new year so far, as the global trading mood from 2017 stayed strongly positive. Analysts said the upbeat sentiment is being buoyed by a continued rise in commodity prices, solid economic data and bond yields remaining at historic lows.

In Asia on Thursday, Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended at a 26-year high (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-soars-on-its-first-trading-day-of-2018-leading-asian-market-gains-2018-01-03), while in Europe, stocks rose (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-set-for-2-week-high-boosted-by-car-makers-and-oil-majors-2018-01-04) almost across the board.

Energy companies contributed to the global gains, tracking a rise in oil prices. Crude futures were trading around three-year highs as antigovernment protests continued in Iran. The riots, which have left more than 20 people dead, have prompted fears of a disruption to crude output from OPEC's third-largest producer, which would limit global oil supply and support prices.

What are strategists saying?

"It's onwards and upwards for global stock markets," said Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, in a note.

"Predicting the end of this equities bull market has proved a fool's errand. Investors desperately short of alternatives treat each blip as a buying opportunity, and that's unlikely to change, certainly near-term, until we see an acceleration in the pace of interest-rate increases. Investors would have been well-served by the old City adage of 'Let the trend be your friend,'" he added.

Read:Fed minutes show a divide over its own forecast of 3 rate hikes this year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-minutes-show-divide-over-its-own-forecast-of-three-rate-hikes-this-year-2018-01-03)

"General market sentiment remains positive as Wall Street continues to run into all-time highs amidst a backdrop of rising oil and metals prices," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

"Traders will increasingly be looking ahead to tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls report for signs of inflation, with traction in wage growth being key. If this is seen then it would likely start to drive a more considerable dollar rebound. For now the move is in its infancy and there is no confirmation of any longevity," Perry said.

What economic data are coming up?

The ADP private payrolls report is scheduled for release at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The reading is seen as a precursor to the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, although the two data sets sometimes vary widely.

Staying in the jobs arena, weekly jobless claims for last week are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. That release is followed by the Markit services purchasing managers index for December at 9:45 a.m. Eastern.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Tesla Inc. (TSLA) fell 2.8% ahead of the bell. The electric-car maker said late Wednesday it had delivered fewer-than-expected vehicles in the fourth quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-pushes-back-model-3-production-target-as-fourth-quarter-deliveries-fall-short-2018-01-03) as it pushed back a Model 3 production target.

Intel Corp.(INTC) lost 1.9% before the open, on course to add to a 3.4% loss logged on Wednesday. The prior session's decline came after the technology company admitted its chips have a security vulnerability (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/intel-stock-headed-for-worst-day-in-more-than-a-year-amd-pops-on-chip-design-flaw-report-2018-01-03) that will require software patches. Intel's Executive Brian Krzanich sold millions of dollars worth of shares (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/intel-ceo-sold-millions-in-stock-after-company-was-informed-of-vulnerability-before-disclosure-2018-01-03) after the company was informed of the vulnerabilities in its semiconductors but before it was publicly disclosed.

See: What you need to know about the huge flaws affecting Intel and others (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/meltdown-and-spectre-are-huge-vulnerabilities-for-intel-and-more-what-you-need-to-know-2018-01-03)

Opinion: Intel suffers an epic security fail, offering a big opportunity for AMD (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/intel-suffers-an-epic-security-fail-offering-a-big-opportunity-for-amd-2018-01-03)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/intel-suffers-an-epic-security-fail-offering-a-big-opportunity-for-amd-2018-01-03)Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.(WBA) initially rose, but then fell 2% premarket after the drugstore chain posted better-than-expected earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/walgreens-boots-alliance-shares-rise-premarket-after-earnings-top-estimates-2018-01-04).

CVS Health Corp.(CVS) added 1.4% after the company issued its guidance for 2018 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cvs-sees-2018-revenue-growth-of-075-to-25-2018-01-04-7912229), saying it expects revenue growth of 0.75% to 2.5%.

L Brands Inc.(LB) slid 11% ahead of the bell after the retailer said same-store sales fell 4% in the 48 weeks ended Dec. 30.

Cogint Inc.(COGT) soared 51% in premarket action. The data and analytics company said it formed a strategic partnership with Dragonchain Inc. to boost its use of blockchain.

What are other markets doing?

Bitcoin futures dropped 2.3% to $14,625, while rival cryptocurrency ripple coin jumped 39% to $3.81, according to CoinMarketcap.com (https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/ripple/).

Gold prices shed 0.4% to reach $1,3143.40 an ounce.

The dollar declined against most other major currencies, sending the ICE dollar index down 0.3% to 91.908.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2018 07:40 ET (12:40 GMT)