European and Asian stock markets were mixed but mostly higher overnight. U.S. stock indexes are pointed toward slightly higher openings when the New York day session begins. Traders and investors pointed to generally upbeat U.S. corporate earnings reports as supporting buying interest in equities, which has pushed the U.S. indexes to four-week highs this week. The U.S. indexes remain in near-term price uptrends on the daily bar charts.

Traders are looking ahead to the European Central Bank’s regular monetary policy meeting that will be ending soon, including ECB President Mario Draghi’s press conference after the meeting. No changes in ECB monetary policy are expected.

In other overnight news, the Euro zone Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) showed a composite reading of 50.7 in January from 51.1 in December. That’s yet another sign of a gradually slowing Euro zone economy. The January PMI reading was the lowest in five years.

Reports overnight said the Microsoft search engine “Bing” has disappeared from China’s internet users’ screens. China heavily censors the internet. This won’t help U.S.-China trade relations when the two sides hold high-level trade talks in Washington, D.C., next week.

The partial U.S. government shutdown drags on, along with the lack of U.S. economic data to drive many markets. A top Trump administration economic advisor on Wednesday said the shutdown could prompt zero growth in the U.S. economy in the first quarter of 2019.

The outside markets today see the U.S. dollar index trading higher. Meantime, Nymex crude oil prices are slightly lower and trading around $52.50 a barrel. Political turmoil in Venezuela, including the U.S. recognizing the opposition leader as leader of the country, is a potentially bullish element for the oil market. The U.S. may sanction Venezuelan oil exports.

U.S. economic data due for release Thursday includes the weekly jobless claims report, the U.S. flash services PMI, the U.S. flash manufacturing PMI, leading economic indicators, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey, and the weekly DOE liquid energy stocks report.

U.S. STOCK INDEXES

March S&P 500 e-mini futures: Prices are slightly firmer in early U.S. trading. Prices are still in an uptrend on the daily bar chart. The shorter-term moving averages (4-, 9- and 18-day) are still 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 bearish early today. Today, shorter-term technical resistance comes in at last week’s high of 2,677.75 and then at 2,700.00. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Downside support for active traders today is located at this week’s low of 2,612.50 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 an 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 early today. Shorter-term technical resistance is seen at Wednesday’s high of 6,724.25 and then at this week’s high of 6,794.50. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. On the downside, short-term support is seen at this week’s low of 6,592.25 and then at 6,550.00. Sell stops are likely located just below those levels.

U.S. TREASURY BONDS AND NOTES FUTURES

March U.S. T-Bonds: Prices are higher in early U.S. trading today. Bulls have the overall near-term technical advantage. 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 neutral to bullish early today. Shorter-term technical resistance is seen at this week’s high of 145 17/32 and then at 145 29/32. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Shorter-term support lies at the overnight low of 144 31/32 and then at last week’s low of 144 9/32. Sell stops likely reside just below those levels.

March U.S. T-Notes: Prices are higher in early U.S. trading. Bulls have the overall chart advantage. 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 bullish early today. Shorter-term resistance lies at this week’s high of 121.20.0 and then at 121.25.0. Buy stops likely reside just above those levels. Shorter-term technical support lies at the overnight low of 121.13.0 and then at Wednesday’s low of 121.07.0. Sell stops likely reside just below those levels.

U.S. DOLLAR INDEX

The March U.S. dollar index is firmly higher and hit a three-week high in early U.S. trading. The shorter-term moving averages for the dollar index are bullish early today, as the 4-day is above the 9-day and 18-day. The 9-day is above the 18-day moving average. Short-term oscillators for the dollar index are bullish early today. The dollar index finds shorter-term technical resistance at the overnight high of 96.165 and then at 96.500. Shorter-term support is seen at the overnight low of 95.715 and then at 95.480.

NYMEX CRUDE OIL

March Nymex crude oil prices are slightly lower in early U.S. trading. Prices are still in an uptrend on the daily bar chart, but just barely now. The shorter-term moving averages are still 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 bearish early today. Look for buy stops to reside just above technical resistance at Wednesday’s high of $53.64 and then at this week’s high of $54.51. Look for sell stops just below technical support at this week’s low of $51.86 and then at $51.00.
GRAINS

Grain futures were weaker overnight. Choppy and sideways trading persists in the grain markets. The U.S. government closure has created a dearth of fresh fundamental news for the grain markets. The uncertainty over no fresh government is bearish and is prompting the sideways grind in prices.