U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher Wall Street open on Monday — the first trading day of December, which has historically been the strongest month of the year. However, in December 2018, the S&P 500 dropped more than 9%. The market, after months of selling, bottomed on Christmas Eve before staging a 2019 rally that could give stocks their best yearly gains in a generation. The S&P 500, as of Friday's close, was up more than 25% this year. The outcome of discussions on a "phase one" trade deal between the U.S. and China could make or break whether Wall Street gets a so-called Santa Claus rally, gains that have often occurred late in December as money managers, traders and investors lock in yearly profits.
China on Monday once again demanded the U.S. commit to rolling back tariffs as part of any trade agreement. President Donald Trump has been resistant to that idea, even as new levies are set to go into effect Dec. 15 on many Chinese-made products, including laptops and smartphones. While both sides last week suggested they were close to striking a deal, China on Monday said it was barring the U.S. Navy from making port calls in Hong Kong. Beijing also announced unspecified sanctions on pro-democracy groups. Trump signed legislation last week supporting human rights in Hong Kong as months of anti-government protests persist. In a brighter spot for China's tariff-damaged economy, a private survey Monday showed China's manufacturing activity expanded more than expected in November.
Manufacturing, the most vulnerable sector in the U.S. economy due to the China trade war, could also show signs of a recovery. The Institute for Supply Management's November manufacturing index is out at 10 a.m. ET. The gauge in October showed manufacturing contraction for a third straight month. The first signs of contraction surfaced in August, ending a 35-month run of expansion. September saw the lowest index reading since June 2009 as exports took a dive on fallout from the trade war. Manufacturing was once considered a big winner under the Trump administration, with improvements in employment and activity over the past few years.
Cyber Monday online shopping is expected to hit an even bigger record this year, with users seen spending $9.4 billion in a nearly 19% increase from 2018. Shoppers over the long Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday, opted to buy more online, which hurt mall traffic. For the entire holiday season, Adobe is anticipating shoppers will spend a $143.7 billion online. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation is forecasting U.S. holiday retail sales over the two months in 2019 will increase by 3.8% to 4.2% from a year ago, for a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. That compares with an average annual increase of 3.7% over the past five years.
The White House will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing Wednesday but left open the possibility that it may take part in future proceedings. In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the hearing does "not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process." But Cipollone said Trump may participate if he is allowed to do so "meaningfully." The president leaves Monday morning for a NATO summit in London. Trump got back to the U.S. on Friday after a surprise Thanksgiving trip to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.