Stock futures point to higher open
Indexes are up after a better-than-expected reading on German economic sentiment.
Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday as U.S. stock markets reopen after the Presidents' Day holiday.
The German ZEW Economic Sentiment Index was released at 48.2 for February, well above forecasts of a reading of 35 and above the January reading of 31.5. It was the third monthly increase in a row and above the 36 points expected by market analysts. The institute asked 272 investment industry analysts between Feb. 4 and Feb. 18 how they thought the economy would perform in the next six months.
It is important to note that this index is highly correlated with equity returns; a higher ZEW generally points to higher equity prices.
In other news around the markets:
- A German finance ministry spokesperson has said that the Troika is set to announce that Greece has met all of its 2012 targets and will soon receive the next bailout tranche.
- Japanese Finance Minister Aso spoke overnight refuting reports that the government will buy foreign bonds as part of its stimulus policy. This has lessened foreign rhetoric against the reflationary policies and has seen the yen strengthen a little.
- Spain's trade deficit was smaller than expected in January at 1.29 billion euros vs. a forecast of a 2.4 billion euro deficit as the ailing nation attempts to export its way out of its debt crisis.
- S&P 500 futures rose 2.1 points to 1,519.20, near session highs as of writing.
- The EUR/USD was lower at 1.3332 after erasing earlier losses.
- Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 5.21 percent.
- Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.38 percent.
- Gold rose 0.12 percent to $1,611.40.
Asian shares were mixed overnight as Japanese shares fell following finance minister Aso's comments. The Japanese Nikkei Index fell 0.31 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6 percent while the Hang Seng Index fell 1.02 percent. Chinese shares could be weaker on reports that more tainted milk powder was found in the country. Also, the Korean Kospi rose 0.2 percent and Australian shares rose 0.36 percent.
European shares were higher following the stronger than expected ZEW survey and as peripheral bond yields declined. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.5 percent and the Italian FTSE MIB Index rose 0.77 percent despite Banca Montei dei Paschi di Sienna executives appearing in court today to defend a lawsuit from a consumer group looking to block the bank's latest bailout. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.7 percent and the French CAC rose 0.99 percent while U.K. shares rose 0.36 percent.
Commodities were mixed overnight as oil was slightly lower, precious metals rallied, and copper dropped. WTI Crude futures fell 0.44 percent to $95.44 per barrel and Brent Crude futures fell 0.01 percent to $117.37 per barrel. Also, Natural Gas futures rose 1.08 percent to $3.19 per million BTU as the weather has gotten colder. Copper futures fell 1.76 percent to $368.75 per pound following dovish RBA minutes. Gold was higher and silver futures rose 0.51 percent to $30.01.
Currency markets were in flux as the yen strengthened, the euro weakened, and the cable recouped some gains. The EUR/USD was lower at 1.3332 and the dollar fell against the yen to 93.51 while the cable rose to 1.5498 after approaching the 1.54 barrier Monday. Overall, the Dollar Index was flat on strength against the euro, the Canadian dollar, and the Swiss franc, and weakness against the pound and the yen.
Stocks moving in the pre-market included:
- Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) shares rose 3.29 percent pre-market after the company's successful secondary offering.
- Covidien (COV) shares fell 1.62 percent ahead of the spin-off of its pharmaceuticals business.
- Apple (AAPL) shares rose 0.4 percent pre-market as LG Electronics is set to invest in a new panel display system which could help Apple build a smart TV.
- Dell (DELL) shares rose 0.29 percent despite increased shareholder opposition to the management buyout over the price.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Tuesday include:
- Barnes and Noble (BKS) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.60 vs. $0.71 a year ago.
- Dell (DELL) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.39 vs. $0.51 a year ago.
- Herbalife (HLF) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.03 vs. $0.86 a year ago.
- Spirit Airlines (SAVE) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.24 vs. $0.33 a year ago.
- Sina (SINA) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.05 vs. $0.21 a year ago.
On the economics calendar Tuesday, the NAHB housing market index is due out. Also, the Treasury is set to auction 3- and 6-month bills. German inflation and British unemployment data should move markets.
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