Futures rise with global shares
Markets are set for a higher open ahead of jobless claims data.
U.S. equity futures rose in early trade Thursday following global shares higher amid new stimulus rounds. Asian shares rallied and European shares gained for the third straight day as sovereign bond yields on peripheral nations declined.
In other news, Australia's economy lost 36,100 jobs in March, worse than the expected drop of 7,500, and well below February's monstrous gain of 74,000 jobs. The unemployment rate jumped to 5.6% from 5.4%.
The Federal Reserve unexpectedly released the latest policy meeting minutes five hours early Wednesday after announcing that 100 congressional staffers and lobbyists had obtained copies of the minutes the day before. Later, reports circled that at least six Wall Street banks had obtained copies of the release and investigators are probing any illegality in these dealings.
Research firm IDC reported that global PC shipments declined 14% in the first quarter, the largest decline since the firm began keeping data. IDC noted that tablets and smartphones are stealing demand away from PCs, but also that Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 also slowed purchases as users were afraid of adopting the new system.(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
S&P 500 futures rose 2.6 points to 1,583.60.
The EUR/USD was slightly higher at 1.3087.
Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.62% from 4.64%.
Italian 10-year government bond yields were flat at 4.32%.
Gold fell 0.22% to $1,555.00 per ounce.
Asian shares were mostly stronger once again, led by Japan as the Bank of Japan's uber-aggressive easing policy continues to drive shares higher. The Japanese Nikkei Index rose 1.96% and the Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.29% and the Hang Seng Index rose 0.3%. Also, the Korean Kospi gained 0.73% and Australian shares rose 0.79%.
European shares were also higher overnight as Cyprus reportedly signed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika, paving the way for bailout funds to flow into the country as soon as possible. Reports also circled that Cyprus may sell its gold holdings to fund some of the bailout. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.08% and the Italian FTSE MIB Index rose 0.53%. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.55% and the French CAC rose 0.6% and U.K. shares gained 0.31%.
Commodities were lower overnight as energy futures declined on reports that domestic oil demand is slowing. WTI crude futures slipped 0.17% to $94.46 per barrel and Brent crude futures fell 0.23% to $105.60 per barrel. Copper futures declined 0.39% to $340.40 on the weak Australian data but also on continued supply fears in the copper market. Gold was lower on the Cyprus gold sale news and silver futures slid 0.7% to $27.43 as investors rotated out of precious metals and into risk assets.
Currency markets were rather quiet after days of strong movements, particularly in the yen crosses. The EUR/USD was higher at 1.3087 and the dollar fell against the yen to 99.56 after rising as high as 99.86. Overall, the Dollar Index fell 0.27% on weakness against the euro, the yen, the pound, the Canadian dollar, and the Swiss franc. Notably, the Australian dollar was stronger overnight despite the weak employment data as the AUD/JPY held above 105.
Earnings reported Wednesday
Key companies that reported earnings Wednesday include:
Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) reported earnings per share of $1.68, in line with estimates, as sales were slightly stronger than forecast at $3.4 billion.
Family Dollar (FDO) reported earnings per share of $1.21 vs. $1.23 forecast on revenue of $2.89 billion as forecast.
JinkoSolar (JKS) reported a wider than expected loss of $1.26 per share vs. estimates of a loss of $0.80 per share and revenue was very weak at $187.3 million vs. estimates of $244.5 million.
Constellation Brands (STZ) reported earnings per share of $0.47 vs. $0.45 expected on revenue of $696 million vs. $666.57 million.
Stocks moving in the premarket included:
Microsoft fell 3.37% premarket on the IDC report showing that Windows 8 is slowly being adopted by consumers. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) shares fell 3.32% premarket also on the IDC report.
Bed Bath and Beyond shares rose 1.53% after reporting stronger than expected earnings.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) shares fell 2.29% premarket after the company lowered its Chinese copper consumption forecast to 5% annual growth through 2025 from 13% between 1995 and 2010.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Thursday include:
Commerce Bancshares (CBSH) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.68 vs. $0.71 a year ago.
Infosys (INFY) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.74 vs. $0.81 a year ago.
Pier 1 Imports (PIR) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.60 vs. $0.48 a year ago.
Rite Aid (RAD) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.02 per share vs. a loss of $0.18 per share a year ago.
On the economics calendar Thursday, initial jobless claims, import prices and export prices are all due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Also, the Treasury is set to auction 30-year bonds, and Charles Plosser and James Bullard of the Fed are expected to speak. Overnight, there are not much key data to move markets and eyes will be on reports out of Japan following the Bank of Japan's meeting with market makers.
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3 stocks will be in the spotlight Thursday as investors try to make sense of the numbers from the sector.
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