MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Poised To Open At Records On Tax-plan Optimism

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Bitcoin futures open above $20,000 in CME debut

U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a solidly higher open on Monday, with major indexes set to trade at records on growing confidence congressional Republicans will succeed in getting a major tax bill passed this week.

Continue Reading Below

What are futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 148 points, or 0.6%, to 24,825, while those for the S&P 500 index gained 9.5 points, or 0.4%, to 2,691.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 Index jumped 39.25 points, or 0.6%, to 6,537.75.

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.

Last week, the Dow and the S&P 500 closed out their fourth straight weekly gain. The two have also risen in 12 of the past 14 weeks.

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.

Among other changes, the bill would lower the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%, which would serve as an immediate boost to earnings. That could serve as a tailwind to equity prices, although experts are split on whether it would result in more hiring or higher wages, as the government has claimed.

Related:Why the Disney deal suggests the tax bill may mean little for the economy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-the-disney-deal-suggests-the-tax-bill-may-mean-little-for-the-economy-2017-12-14)

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.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) jumped 13% premarket after activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. on Friday reported a 6.5% stake in internet technology company.

Oracle Corp.(ORCL) added 1% ahead of the bell after the software company struck a $1.2 billion deal to buy Australian project-management software provider Aconex Ltd (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oracle-strikes-12-billion-deal-for-australias-aconex-2017-12-18).(ACX.AU). Aconex shares closed a whopping 44% higher in Sydney.

CSX Corp.(CSX) declined 4.2% ahead of the bell after Chief Executive Hunter Harrison died on Saturday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/csxs-chief-executive-dies-a-day-after-medical-leave-news-cuts-billions-from-market-cap-2017-12-16) from "unexpected severe complications from a recent illness." Shares of the railroad company slumped 7.6% on Friday on the surprise announcement that Harrison was placed on medical leave.

Shares of Twitter Inc.(TWTR) jumped 4.6% in premarket trade after analysts at J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock to buy from neutral (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/twitter-stock-jumps-as-jp-morgan-praises-product-improvements-profit-trajectory-2017-12-18), citing product improvements that are under way, including a new emphasis on live video and a better user interface.

What's new in economics?

The National Association of Home Builders' index for December is due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

There were no Federal Reserve members scheduled to speak on Monday.

What are other markets doing?

The dollar slipped back against most other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index down 0.2% at 93.704. 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 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/financials-drive-gains-in-japan-australia-on-investor-optimism-over-us-tax-plan-2017-12-18) higher on Monday, while European stocks opened with solid gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-rally-on-us-tax-reform-optimism-with-banks-in-charge-2017-12-18).

Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/crude-oil-rises-to-1-week-high-on-signs-of-slower-us-drilling-activity-2017-12-18) 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's Chicago Mercantile Exchange (https://dowjones.slack.com/messages/D1C77N44F/)(CME), on Sunday, opening above $20,000. The January contract was down 0.9% at $19,320 on Monday morning.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2017 08:47 ET (13:47 GMT)