US stocks looked set to rise at the open on Friday amid signs of progress in Sino-US trade relations.
At 1215 GMT, Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures were up 0.5%, while Nasdaq futures were 0.6% firmer.
Fresh optimism about trade relations between the US and China were set to boost the mood following a report that the two were making progress. According to news agency Xinhua, Chinese Vice Premier Liu, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer made “further substantive progress” on trade talks in a telephone conversation on Thursday.
Investors were also reacting to comments from Trump at an event at the White House on Thursday, during which he said: “Probably one way or the other we're going to know over the next three or four weeks.” He added that China had been “very responsible and very reasonable”.
News that China has passed a new foreign investment law aimed at levelling the domestic playing field for overseas investors was also set to lift sentiment. The new law, which will come into effect in January 2020, will address concerns from foreign investors such as unfair treatment in terms of market access and government procurement.
James Hughes, chief market analyst at Axi Trader, said: “Wall Street may have flat-lined during yesterday's session, but index futures are once again showing optimism that gains can be picked up before the weekend break. Asian markets put in a solid session, fuelled in part by a timeline on progress over US-China trade talks. There's still no guarantee that these can be concluded, but at least we've seen an indication that the wait will only be another three to four weeks. This has the potential to fuel risk appetite in the interim period, although clearly a quick reversal could ensure if the market doesn't like the outcome.
“Economic data from the US today includes industrial production for February and the preliminary Michigan sentiment print for March. Although these readings are unlikely to have any direct impact on equities, it's the story they tell in terms of quantitative tightening that could prove more compelling. A lacklustre consumer sentiment view will again pressure the Fed into suspending QT quickly, in turn giving stocks something worth cheering.”
On the corporate front, retailer Kirkland saw its shares drop nearly 10% in pre-market trade as its fourth-quarter profit and guidance missed analysts' expectations.
Shares in electric car maker Tesla were 3.1% lower after the company unveiled a new electric crossover SUV, the Model Y, at an event at its design studio on Thursday evening.
Elsewhere, Newell Brands looked set for gains after announcing late on Thursday the retirement of its chief executive officer.