Futures flat on global stimulus
U.S. equity futures were flat overnight despite comments from global central banks indicating more stimulus may be imminent.
Minutes from the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee meeting as well as comments from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Wheelan indicated that global central banks stand ready to ease further should there be a need for further stimulus.
In other news around the markets:
- Credit Agricole, the large French banking giant, posted a record fourth-quarter loss overnight after writing down over 5 billion euros of goodwill relating to an acquisition of Italian assets, dragging French shares lower.
- Talks between EU leaders over the implementation of the new Basel banking rules broke down and will restart next week.
- Germany auctioned 10-year bonds to yield 1.66%, above the previous auction's 1.56%.
- S&P 500 futures were flat at 1,528.00.
- The EUR/USD was higher at 1.3403.
- Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 5.16 percent.
- Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.38 percent.
- Gold fell 0.16 percent to $1,601.80 per ounce.
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Asian shares were mostly higher overnight led by Korean stocks as the Bank of Korea did not lower its growth forecast in the face of the strengthening won. The Japanese Nikkei Index rose 0.84% and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6%, while the Hang Seng Index rose 0.71%. Also, the Korean Kospi rose 1.95% and Australian shares rose 0.33%.
European shares were mixed as peripheral shares fell on financial sector fears. The Spanish Ibex Index fell 0.41%, and Italian FTSE MIB Index declined 0.36%. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.19%, while the French CAC declined 0.28% and U.K. shares rose 0.28%.
Commodities were mixed overnight as metals remained weak. WTI Crude futures rose 0.2% to $96.85 per barrel and Brent Crude futures fell 0.12% to $117.40 per barrel. Copper futures declined 0.08% to $366.35 per pound. Gold was lower and silver futures declined 0.01% to $29.42 per ounce.
Currency markets saw a weak pound overnight as the cable broke down near 1.53 to 1.5317 on renewed hopes of BoE easing. The EUR/USD was higher at 1.3403, and the dollar fell against the yen to 93.45. Overall, the Dollar Index rose 0.02% on strength against the sterling and the Canadian dollar.
Stocks moving in the pre-market included:
- Best Buy (BBY) shares rose 3.87% pre-market on renewed hopes of a management buyout and also on a newly announced pricing scheme, aimed at competing with rivals such as Amazon (AMZN).
- Citigroup (C) shares fell 0.56% pre-market as the company announced it is taking over the branded credit cards for Best Buy from Capital One (COF) including the purchase of $7 billion in credit card receivables from Capital One.
- United Parcel Service (UPS) shares rose 2.5% pre-market as the company is set to go ex-dividend Thursday.
- Herbalife (HLF) shares declined 0.98% pre-market after the company reported record fourth-quarter earnings.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Wednesday include:
- Boston Beer (SAM) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of $1.25 vs. $1.20 a year ago.
- Dish Network (DISH) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of $0.51 vs. $0.70 a year ago.
- Leap Wireless (LEAP) is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of $1.53 per share vs. a loss of $1.10 per share a year ago.
- Starz (STRZA) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of $0.44 vs. $3.93 a year ago.
- Tesla Motors (TSLA) is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of $0.53 vs. a loss of $0.69 a year ago.
On the economics calendar Wednesday, MBA Purchase Applications and Housing Starts are due out, as well as producer prices and the Redbook. The Treasury is set to auction 4-week bills, and the FOMC minutes are due out this afternoon. Overnight, Eurozone manufacturing PMI's and debt auctions from Spain, France, and England could move markets.
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Investors remain jittery as they await the central bank's policy decision and Chairman Bernanke's press conference.
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