Futures flat on Draghi stimulus comments
Markets are set for a steady open following remarks from the ECB president.
U.S. equity futures were relatively flat in early trade following comments from ECB President Mario Draghi. Draghi said that the bank has no intention of tightening policy anytime soon as inflation runs below target. He also said the bank is far from implementing an exit strategy.
In other news, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke finished his two-day testimony in Washington Wednesday, dismissing fears that the Fed's quantitative easing will soon end reiterating his commitment to loose monetary policy.
Germany's unemployment rate in February remained at 6.9% compared to an upwardly revised 6.9% in January. This was weaker than forecasts of a 6.8% rate.
Spanish fourth quarter GDP fell 0.8% from the previous quarter, worse than expectations of a drop of 0.7%.
- S&P 500 futures were flat at 1,515.80.
- The EUR/USD was lower at 1.3108.
- Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 5.13%.
- Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.75%.
- Gold fell 0.38% to $1,589.60.
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Asian shares were higher led by Chinese and Japanese stocks on global monetary stimulus, including from Japan. The Japanese Nikkei Index rose 2.71% and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.26% while the Hang Seng Index rose 1.96%. Also, the Korean Kospi rose 1.12% and Australian shares rose 1.34%.
European shares were mostly higher save for Italy on post-election fears. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.46% despite Bankia reporting a massive $27.6 billion loss for 2012 and the Italian FTSE MIB Index fell 0.21%. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.54% and the French CAC gained 0.35% while U.K. shares rose 0.27%.
Commodities were mixed overnight with precious metals especially weak. WTI crude futures fell 0.29% to $92.49 per barrel and Brent crude futures rose 0.09% to $111.97 per barrel. Copper futures rose 0.08% to $357.00 per pound on Chinese strength. Gold was lower and silver futures declined 0.16% to $28.94 per ounce.
Currency markets were rather quiet as the euro weakened on increased monetary stimulus talk from Draghi. The EUR/USD was lower at 1.3108 and the dollar fell against the yen to 92.14. Overall, the Dollar Index rose 0.04% on strength against the euro, the Swiss franc, the Canadian dollar, and the Swedish krone.
Stocks moving in the premarket included:
- Groupon (GRPN) fell 24.78% in premarket trading after the company reported weaker than expected earnings.
- J.C. Penney (JCP) shares fell 13.75% after the company reported earnings that missed estimates on multiple items, including restructuring charges and other one-time items.
- Mylan (MYL) shares rose 2.38% after the company boosted its share buyback program by $500 million and announced the acquisition of Agila from Strides for $1.6 billion in cash.
- Universal Display (PANL) rose 2.51% after reporting earnings that were in line with estimates on stronger than expected sales and kept guidance relatively strong.
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Notable companies expected to report earnings Thursday include:
- Cablevision Systems Corp (CVC) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.09 vs. $0.22 a year ago.
- Domino's Pizza (DPZ) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.60 vs. $0.52 a year ago.
- The Gap (GPS) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.71 vs. $0.44 a year ago.
- Salesforce.com (CRM) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.40 vs. $0.43 a year ago.
- Sears Holding (SHLD) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.98 vs. $0.54 a year ago.
On the economics calendar Thursday, the latest U.S. GDP update for the fourth quarter is to be released as well as weekly initial jobless claims. Also, the Chicago PMI and the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index are to be released. In addition, the Fed's Sarah Bloom Raskin, Richard Fisher, and Charles Evans are set to speak.
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