Benzinga Market Primer: Thursday, March 14
Futures Rise After Australian Employment, ECB Report
U.S. equity futures traded slightly higher in early pre-market trade following stronger than expected Australian employment data and also dovish comments from the ECB in its Monthly Bulletin. The ECB sees the eurozone economy stabilizing in 2013 with growth returning this year and sees inflation remaining tepid with downside risks remaining.
In other news around the markets:
- Australian employment change for February shocked traders last night as payrolls grew 71.5 thousand in February on expectations of a gain of just 10 thousand jobs, a beat of an astounding 9.6 standard deviations.
- The Swiss National Bank kept rates on hold effectively at zero and re-committed to buy unlimited amounts of currency to keep the franc weak to boost exports.
- All three of new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Bank of Japan nominees were approved by the Japanese lower house, as expected. The three will now face confirmation hearings in the upper house late Thursday which should be much tougher since Abe has a smaller majority in the upper house.
- S&P 500 futures rose 3.2 points to 1,552.90.
- The EUR/USD was lower at 1.2948.
- Spanish 10-year government bond yields rose to 4.82 percent from 4.76 percent.
- Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.67 percent from 4.68 percent.
- Gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,584.70 per ounce.
Asian shares were mostly higher overnight boosted by the astounding Australian employment figures, although Australian shares actually fell on continuous cautious comments from RBA members. The Japanese Nikkei Index rose 1.16 percent as Abe's BoJ nominees passed the lower house's nomination process and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.28 percent while the Hang Seng Index rose 0.28 percent as well. Also, the Korean Kospi rose 0.12 percent and Australian shares declined 1.18 percent.
European shares were mostly higher in early trade following the dovish comments from the ECB and also on stronger than expected Spanish retail sales data. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 1.04 percent and the Italian FTSE MIB Index rose 1.17 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.73 percent while the French CAC gained 0.66 percent and U.K. shares added 0.22 percent.
Commodities were mixed overnight as oil futures rose and precious metals slipped. WTI Crude futures rose 0.17 percent to $92.68 per barrel and Brent Crude futures rose 0.15 percent to $108.70 per barrel. Copper futures rose 0.33 percent to $353.65 per pound following the strong Australian data. Gold was lower and silver futures declined 0.55 percent to $28.80 per ounce.
Currency markets were on the move overnight kick-started by the Australian employment data as the Aussie dollar strengthened and the yen fell. The EUR/USD was lower at 1.2948 and the dollar rose against the yen to 96.36. Overall, the Dollar Index rose 0.1 percent on strength against the euro, the yen, and the Swiss franc. Notably, the Australian dollar rose 0.46 percent against the greenback to 1.0345 and rose 0.72 percent against the yen to 99.6980, but failed to break through the key 100 level.
Stocks moving in the pre-market included:
- Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) shares rose 0.62 percent pre-market after Goldman Sachs made positive comments on the stock.
- Men's Warehouse (NYSE: MW) shares rose 13.35 percent pre-market after the company reported better than expected earnings and increased its buyback.
- Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) shares rose 0.24 percent pre-market after announcing that it will shut down its Google Reader product in July.
- General Motors (NYSE: GM) shares fell 0.96 percent pre-market on reports that a recall may need to be expanded by an additional 1 million vehicles.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Thursday include:
- Affymax (NASDAQ: AFFY) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.61 per share vs. a loss of $0.88 per share a year ago.
- Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.22 vs. $0.44 a year ago.
- Buckle (NYSE: BKE) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.25 vs. $1.18 a year ago.
- Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.09 vs. $0.25 a year ago.
- Molycorp (NYSE: MCP) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.31 per share vs. EPS of $0.41 a year ago.
- Zumiez (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.73 vs. $0.60 a year ago.
On the economics calendar Thursday, weekly jobless claims and producer prices are due out as well as the current account. Later, the Treasury is set to auction 30-year bonds. Overnight, eurozone inflation data is due out and results from the Bank of Japan confirmation hearings should trickle out.
Good luck and good trading.
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