Stock futures back in record territory as Middle East tensions fade

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By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday after the United States and Iran pulled back from new military action, while firming optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal put Wall Street back on track for fresh records.

China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday that Vice Premier Liu He will sign a Phase 1 deal in Washington next week, raising hopes that a prolonged tariff war between the two sides will come to a close.

After a wobbly start in the new year on fears of an all-out conflict in the Middle East, nerves eased on Wednesday as Washington and Tehran looked to defuse the crisis after Iran’s retaliatory attack following the killing of a top general.

At 07:23 a.m. ET, were up 107 points, or 0.37%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 11.75 points, or 0.36% and were up 48 points, or 0.54%.

Investors are awaiting Friday’s jobs report as well as the fourth-quarter earnings season, which begins next week. Earnings for the S&P 500 companies are expected to drop 0.6% in their second consecutive decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Apple (O:) gained 1.1% after government data showed iPhone sales in China in December jumped more than 18% year on year.

Alphabet (O:), Facebook (O:) and Twitter (N:) rose between 0.6% and 1.2% after Cowen Equity Research raised its price target on the stocks after their survey of U.S. ad buyers showed upbeat 2020 advertisement spending.

Starbucks Corp (O:) rose 1.5% after Barclays (LON:) raised to “over weight”, while Advanced Micro Devices Inc (O:) gained 2.5% after Mizhuo recommended “buy” on the stock, citing improving server market in 2020.

Beyond Meat (O:) shares rose 1.6% after McDonald’s Corp (N:) said it would expand its trial in Canada of vegan burgers made by Beyond Meat.

Coca-Cola Co (N:) was up 1% after Credit Suisse (SIX:) upgraded its stock to “outperform” as the brokerage expects revenue to grow at the high-end of the company’s 4% to 6% forecast for several years.

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