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Futures rise after Biden-Xi call, oil bounce

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday, as signs of an easing in tensions between the United States and China added to recent data that soothed fears of a slowdown in the economic recovery.

FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Traders read news of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, their first talks in seven months, as a positive sign that could bring a thaw in ties between the world’s two most important trading partners. [MKTS/GLOB]

U.S.-listed Chinese e-commerce companies Alibaba and JD.com, ride-hailing firm Didi, music streaming company Tencent Music and electric car maker Nio Inc all gained between 0.6% and 2.7%.

The energy sector was the top gainer, with Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum, Chevron, Halliburton rising between 0.9% and 1.9%, as they tracked higher oil prices on signs of supply tightness. [O/R]

Data on Thursday showed weekly jobless claims fell to a near 18-month low, allying concerns about economic growth but also stoking fears that the Federal Reserve could act faster to scale back stimulus.

At 6:59 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 177 points, or 0.51%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 18.75 points, or 0.42%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 64.25 points, or 0.41%.

While futures pointed to opening gains on Friday, the three major U.S. stock indexes were on track to end the week lower as big banks turned skeptical about further gains for record-high markets due to concerns over tighter monetary policy and the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Economy-sensitive S&P 500 sub-sectors such as energy, real estate, industrials and materials led declines so far this week.

Heavyweight tech stocks Apple, Microsoft, Google owner Alphabet and Amazon were up around 0.4% each.

Investors were awaiting producer prices data for August, due at 08:30 a.m. ET. The index was expected to climb to 8.2% in August, from 7.8% in the previous month.

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