Stocks are set for strong gains at the open, but remain on track for their worst December since the Great Depression

  • US equity markets were set for gains of about 1% at Monday’s open after President Donald Trump expressed optimism surrounding the possibility of a trade deal with China.
  • Still, the S&P 500 is on track for its worst December since 1931.
  • Watch stocks trade live.

US equity markets were set to open sharply higher Monday, but remained on track for the their worst December since the Great Depression.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was looking at a gain of 240 points, or about 1.1%, while the S&P 500 was set to open higher by 25 points, or about 1.1%, near 2,510. Still, the benchmark index is down 10% this month, and needs to finish the session above 2,594.56 to avoid its worst December since 1931, according to CNBC.

Monday’s early gains come after President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that trade talks between the US and China were progressing, fuelling optimism that a deal could be ironed out in January, when face-to-face negotiations between the two sides are expected to take place.

“Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,”Trump tweeted.

“Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”

A deal between the world’s two largest economies would be welcome to the global economy as manufacturing data has taken a turn for the worse in both countries. On Monday, China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index showed the sector contracted for the first time in two years. And earlier this month, Empire Manufacturing and Richmond Fed manufacturing saw notable slowdowns in the US.

Amazon was up 2.7% in early trading after the Wall Street Journal reported that Whole Foods employees are looking into potential store locations in Western North America that would allow more customers to be within Prime Now’s two-hour delivery-service range.

Elsewhere, energy names were gaining ground on the back of a 2.25% spike in oil prices, which sent West Texas Intermediate crude above $US46.25 a barrel. Marathon Oil, Hess, and Transocean saw gains of between 3% and 4%.

The dollar slid 0.23% against a basket of major peers and was flirting with its lowest close since November 7, ahead of the 10:30 a.m. ET release of Dallas Fed Manufacturing. Treasury yields were firm, with the 10-year up 1.6 basis points at 2.734%.

Markets across much of Asia and Europe were shuttered for New Year’s. They will remain closed until Wednesday.

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