Futures flat on global manufacturing data
US markets are set for a steady open after China's recent drop in PMI has reversed, and ahead of several US economic reports.
U.S. equity futures were flat in early premarket trade following manufacturing data from both China and the eurozone.
China's HSBC flash manufacturing PMI rose to 51.7 in March, reversing February's drop and easing fears of a renewed Chinese slowdown. However, the eurozone manufacturing PMI came in weaker than expected and showed a further contraction in output in march.
In other news, The Federal Reserve kept its foot on the proverbial pedal Wednesday, voting to keep policy constant. Although members debated extensively the costs and benefits of additional easing, the committee agreed that more accommodation was necessary in the face of fiscal tightening.
Germany's manufacturing sector showed a renewed contraction after two months of expansion as the manufacturing PMI fell to 48.9 from 50.3, below expectations of a rise to 50.5.
New Zealand's fourth quarter GDP rose much more than expected, climbing 1.5% from the previous quarter. compared to expectations of a 0.9% gain. This the latest strong report from Australia and New Zealand, showing renewed strength in both economies.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.3 points to 1,547.70.
The EUR/USD was lower at 1.2905.
Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.95% from 4.98%.
Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.6% from 4.66%.
Gold rose 0.01% to $1,607.70.
Asian shares were mixed overnight, led by Japanese shares following the one-day holiday as markets rose on hopes of increased easing from the Bank of Japan. The Japanese Nikkei Index rose 1.34% and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% while the Hang Seng Index fell 0.14%. Also, the Korean Kospi declined 0.44% and Australian shares fell 0.16%.
European shares were weaker on the PMI data overnight as well as continued uncertainty over the Cyprus bailout. The Mediterranean nation continued talks with Russian creditors Thursday, and no deal has been reached yet. The Spanish Ibex Index fell 0.4% and the Italian FTSE MIB Index fell 0.26%. Meanwhile, the German DAX declined 0.74% and the French CAC lost 0.86% while U.K. shares fell 0.64%.
Commodities were mixed overnight as energy futures weakened on the European manufacturing data and metals gained. WTI crude futures fell 0.52% to $53.01 per barrel and Brent crude futures fell 0.29% to $108.37 per barrel. Copper futures rose 0.16% to $345.15 per pound on the stronger Chinese data. Gold was higher and silver futures gained 0.18% to $28.87 per ounce.
Currency markets were in flux overnight as the pound and the yen gained while the euro sank. The EUR/USD was lower at 1.2905 and the dollar fell against the yen to 95.46 while the pound gained 0.51% to 1.5177 against the dollar. Overall, the Dollar Index gained 0.03% on strength against the euro, the Swedish krone, and the Swiss franc. Notably, the EUR/GBP rate fell 0.75% to 0.8502 and the EUR/JPY fell 0.8% to 123.18.
Stocks moving in the premarket included:
Oracle (ORCL) shares fell 7.73% premarket after the company reported worse than expected earnings due to currency fluctuations.
Jabil Circuit (JBL) shares fell 4.52% premarket after the company reported weaker than expected earnings.
J.C. Penney (JCP) rose 1.24% as bondholders filed a noticed withdrawing their default notice, meaning that the company does not have to fight the bondholders in bankruptcy court.
Zimmer Holdings (ZMH) shares rose 0.28% premarket as the company announced an 11% rise in its first quarter dividend.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Thursday include:
Lululemon (LULU) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.74 vs. $0.51 a year ago.
Micron Technology (MU) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.20 per share vs. a loss of $0.29 per share a year ago.
Nike (NKE) is expected to report third quarter earnings per share of $0.67 vs. $0.60 a year ago.
Ross Stores (ROST) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $1.07 vs. $0.85 a year ago.
Silver Wheaton (SLW) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.48 vs. $0.41 a year ago.
On the economics calendar Thursday, Irish GDP is due out followed by retail sales and weekly jobless claims. Later, the FHFA house price index is expected followed by the U.S. PMI, existing home sales, and the Philly Fed manufacturing index. In addition, the Treasury is set to auction 10-year TIPS. Overnight, the German IFO business climate index should move markets following the weak PMI data Thursday.
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