Futures flat ahead of Bernanke
With the Fed Chairman appearing again in Washington, markets are set for a steady open Wednesday morning.
U.S. equity futures were flat in premarket trading ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second day of testimony in Washington. On Tuesday, he hinted that the Fed isn't concerned with its exit strategy from its current quantitative easing program, noting that it could exit stimulus by doing nothing.
In other news, European business and consumer confidence remained strong in the latest Business and Consumer Confidence Survey despite headwinds such as the Italian elections. The index rose to 91.1 in February from 89.5 in January and beat expectations of 89.9.
Italy sold 5- and 10-year bonds this morning with yields rising from the previous auction post-elections but in line with the market's expectations.
The latest update to British GDP was released, with the fourth-quarter figure reiterated at a contraction of 0.3%. However, the index of services component was revised lower to -0.1% from 0.6%. Business Investment was lower than expected at -1.2% quarter-over-quarter, and the previous quarter's figure was revised sharply lower to 0.5% growth from a previous reading of 3.8%.
S&P 500 futures were flat at 1,492.20.
The EUR/USD was higher at 1.3098.
Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 5.35%.
Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.88% after the auction at 4.83%.
Gold fell 0.45% to $1,608.20 per ounce.
Asian shares were mixed overnight, with Japanese stocks falling as the yen strengthened. The Japanese Nikkei Index fell 1.27%, the Shanghai Composite Index fell rose 0.87% and the Hang Seng Index rose 0.25%. Also, the Korean Kospi was up 0.2%, and Australian shares rose 0.66%.
European shares were slightly higher in early trade boosted by the confidence numbers despite the weak U.K. GDP report. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.31%, and the Italian FTSE MIB Index rose 0.29% despite weakness in banks. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.16%, the French CAC rose 0.33% and U.K. shares rose 0.14%.
Commodities were mixed overnight as energy futures rose and metals lagged. WTI Crude futures rose 0.28% to $92.88 per barrel, and Brent Crude futures rose 0.4% to $113.16 per barrel. Copper futures fell 0.29% to $357.05 per pound after a Chinese research institute said China needs tighter monetary policy. Gold was lower, and silver futures fell 0.41% to $29.21 per ounce.
Currency markets were rather quiet after days of volatility overnight. The EUR/USD was higher at 1.3098, the dollar fell against the yen to 91.66 and the pound rose against the dollar to 1.5130. Overall, the Dollar Index fell 0.24% on weakness against the euro, the pound, the yen and the Swiss franc. Notably, the Australian dollar was rather weak, falling 0.42% against the U.S. dollar and 0.77% against the yen.
Stocks moving in the premarket included:
- First Solar (FSLR) shares fell 11.35% premarket after the company reported weaker than expected earnings and lowered guidance.
- Priceline.com (PCLN) shares rose 3.76% after the company reported earnings that beat estimates.
- Edison International (EIX) shares rose 4.08% after a strong earnings report, beating estimates by 70%.
- Lockheed Martin (LMT) shares fell 1.26% despite a Pentagon spokesman restating that it's committed to the F-35 program even with the sequester set to hit.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Wednesday include:
- A. B. InBev (BUD) is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.18 vs. $1.21 a year ago.
- Chicago Bridge and Iron (CBI) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of 83 cents vs. 70 cents a year ago.
- Fortress Investment Group (FIG) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of 14 cents vs. 9 cents a year ago.
- Groupon (GRPN) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of 3 cents vs. a loss of 2 cents per share a year ago.
- J.C. Penney (JCP) is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of 14 cents per share vs. EPS of 74 cents a year ago.
- Target (TGT) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of $1.48 vs. $1.43 a year ago.
- TJX Companies (TJX) is expected to report fourth-quarter EPS of 81 cents vs. 62 cents a year ago.
On the economics calendar Wednesday, Durable goods orders and pending home sales are due out. Also, the Treasury is set to auction 7-year notes, and the Fed's Richard Fisher is set to speak. Overnight, Spanish GDP and German unemployment data should move markets.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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