European and Asian stock markets were mostly higher overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward firmer openings when the New York day session begins. Traders and investors are in upbeat moods late this week on reports that surfaced Thursday afternoon that the U.S. is considering lowering or even eliminating its trade tariffs on China as a way to get that nation to make more trade concessions in the current trade war. The idea came from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, reports said. However, other reports said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is against the idea, while another report said the Trump administration is not considering lowering tariffs on Chinese goods imported into the U.S. Next week, Chinese and U.S. trade officials are scheduled to meet next week in Washington. The marketplace is taking this news as a positive and reckons President Trump is demanding his advisors get a trade deal done with China by early March.

The important outside markets today see the U.S. dollar index trading near steady. Meantime, Nymex crude oil prices are firmer and trading just below $53.00 a barrel.

U.S. economic data due for release Friday includes industrial production and capacity utilization and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey.

U.S. STOCK INDEXES

March S&P 500 e-mini futures: Prices are firmer and hit a four-week high overnight. Prices are in a fledgling uptrend on the daily bar chart. The shorter-term moving averages (4-, 9- and 18-day) are bullish early today. The 4-day moving average is above the 9-day and 18-day. The 9-day is above the 18-day moving average. Short-term oscillators (RSI, slow stochastics) are neutral to bullish early today. Today, shorter-term technical resistance comes in at 2,650.00 and then at 2,675.00. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Downside support for active traders today is located at 2,625.00 and then at 2,600.00. Sell stops are likely located just below those levels.

March Nasdaq index December futures: Prices are firmer in early U.S. trading. Prices are in a fledgling uptrend on the daily bar chart. Shorter-term moving averages (4- 9-and 18-day) are bullish early today. The 4-day moving average is above the 9-day and 18-day. The 9-day average is above the 18-day. Short-term oscillators (RSI, slow stochastics) are neutral to bullish early today. Shorter-term technical resistance is seen at this week’s high of 6,760.00 and then at 6,800.00. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. On the downside, short-term support is seen at 6,700.00 and then at 6,650.00. Sell stops are likely located just below those levels.

U.S. TREASURY BONDS AND NOTES FUTURES

March U.S. T-Bonds: Prices are lower and hit a three-week low in early U.S. trading today. Bulls still have the overall near-term technical advantage, but are fading. Shorter-term moving averages (4- 9- 18-day) are bearish early today. The 4-day moving average is below the 9-day and 18-day. The 9-day is below the 18-day moving average. Oscillators (RSI, slow stochastics) are bearish early today. Shorter-term technical resistance is seen at the overnight high of 145 7/32 and then at this week’s high of 145 29/32. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Shorter-term support lies at 144 16/32 and then at 144 even. Sell stops likely reside just below those levels.

March U.S. T-Notes: Prices are lower and hit a three-week low in early U.S. trading. Bulls still have the overall chart advantage but are fading. Shorter-term moving averages (4- 9- 18-day) are bearish early today. The 4-day moving average is below the 9-day. The 9-day is below the 18-day moving average. Oscillators (RSI, slow stochastics) are bearish early today. Shorter-term resistance lies at the overnight high of 121.17.5 and then at 121.24.0. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Shorter-term technical support lies at 121.08.0 and then at 121.00.0. Sell stops likely reside just below those levels.

U.S. DOLLAR INDEX

The March U.S. dollar index is slightly lower in early U.S. trading. The shorter-term moving averages for the dollar index are neutral early today, as the 4-day is above the 9-day. The 9-day is below the 18-day moving average. Short-term oscillators for the dollar index are neutral to bullish early today. The dollar index finds shorter-term technical resistance at this week’s high of 95.925 and then at 96.250. Shorter-term support is seen at 95.480 and then at this week’s low of 95.070.

NYMEX CRUDE OIL

February Nymex crude oil prices are higher in early U.S. trading. Prices are in a fledgling uptrend on the daily bar chart. The shorter-term moving averages are bullish early today as the 4-day is above the 9-day. The 9-day is above the 18-day moving average. Short-term oscillators (RSI and slow stochastics) are neutral early today. Look for buy stops to reside just above technical resistance at the January high of $53.31 and then at $54.00. Look for sell stops just below technical support at $52.00 and then at $51.00.

GRAINS

Grain futures were higher again overnight, on short covering and corrective rebounds from recent selling pressure, and on the upbeat assessment of the U.S.-China trade talks. The U.S. government closure has created a dearth of fresh fundamental news for the grain markets. The uncertainty over no fresh government data remains bearish.