Mar E-mini stock futures this morning are up +5.00 points (+0.16%) in holiday-thinned trading with Europe closed for the extended Christmas holiday and the UK closed for Boxing Day.

Strength in crude oil is pushing energy stocks higher with Feb WTI crude oil up +0.29% at a 3-1/4 month high after the API reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude stockpiles tumbled -7.9 million bbl last week.

Mining stocks and metals producers are also moving higher with Feb COMEX gold up +0.32% and Mar COMEX silver up +1.24%, both at 1-1/2 month highs.

Uncertainty about UK-EU trade negotiations is fueling safe-haven buying of precious metals and continued asset purchases by the BOJ is boosting demand for gold as a store of value after the BOJ today said that it plans to keep the current pace of bond buying in Jan unchanged from Dec fall all JGB purchases.

Asian markets settled higher as China’s Shanghai Composite closed up +0.85% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Index closed up +0.60%.

The dollar index is up +0.05%. EUR/USD is down -0.05%. USD/JPY is up +0.18% at a 1-week high as the yen weakened after Japan Nov housing starts fell more than expected to a nearly 8-year low and after the BOJ maintained its current pace of asset purchases. Mar 10-year T-notes are unchanged.

Japan Nov housing starts fell -12.7% y/y to 834,000 annualized, weaker than expectations of -7.8% y/y to 881,000 and the fewest in nearly 8 years.

Japan Nov construction orders fell -1.2% y/y after they had risen +6.4% y/y in Oct.