(Updated with the latest economic and corporate news, and market data)
Wall Street is back in business - and it could be a wild session. After Superstorm Sandy halted activity in U.S. stocks for two days, the trading floor on the New York Stock Exchange has returned to life, and other exchanges, including Nasdaq, are returning to action.
A huge volume of pent-up trading activity is expected in the early going, and stocks should open higher. Stock index futures are firmly in positive territory this morning, and a lift in commodity prices too should also help translate into gains for the TSX.
Many investors are relieved that damage from Sandy, estimated at up to $20-billion (U.S.) , may be less than some feared. There could be a bounce in shares of companies that may benefit from repairs and rebuilding, such as Home Depot and Lowes. In the premarket, Home Depot is up 3.5 per cent; Lowe's 4.7 per cent. Meanwhile, Generac Holdings, a maker of portable generators, is soaring 10 per cent in the premarket, on thoughts Sandy will spark a surge in demand for its products.
On the flip side, property and casualty insurers could come under pressure given the onslaught of claims they may be facing. However, many large insurers, such as Travelers Cos., sold off last week in anticipation of the storm, which may limit their downside today.
Today is also the last day of the month when some institutional investors adjust portfolios, which should keep trading active.
Meanwhile, a number of earnings are out today, including from General Motors, and it's a busy day of corporate news developments, including reports that Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is in talks with Israel’s government about merging with its smaller rival Israel Chemicals. (See stocks and economic indicators to watch below for all the details.)
European and Asian markets were generally higher overnight, despite news that unemployment in the euro zone rose to a record 11.6 per cent in September.
Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway.
Futures: Dow +0.4 per cent, S&P 500 +0.4 per cent, Nasdaq +0.1 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +1.00 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.32 per cent
Japan’s Nikkei +0.97 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 -0.25 per cent
Germany’s DAX +0.47 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.10 per cent
WTI (Nymex Dec) +0.93 per cent at $86.48 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.50 per cent at $1,720.70 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) +1.07 per cent at $3.54 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0009, or 0.09 per cent, at $0.999 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada reported gross domestic product in August slipped 0.1 per cent from July, its first monthly drop since February. It was expected to be up 0.2 per cent. The Canadian dollar turned lower on the data.
General Motors reported earnings of 93 cents a share in its latest quarter, soaring past analysts' estimates of 60 cents.
Torstar Corp. reported earnings of 18 cents, down from 32 cents, as revenues slumped 6.2 per cent. Advertising sales at its newspapers dipped again in September after showing some strength over the summer.
Walt Disney Co. shares are up 4 per cent in premarket trading after the company announced it will purchase Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05-billion (U.S.).
Other scheduled earnings include: Ainsworth Lumber Inc.; Anheuser Busch Inbev SA; ArcelorMittal; Astral Media Inc.; Athabasca Oil Corp.; Ballard Power Systems Inc.; Cameco Corp.; Maple Leaf Foods Inc.; MasterCard Inc.; Murphy Oil Corp.; Open Text Corp.; Sherritt International Corp.; Suncor Energy Inc.; Taseko Mines Ltd.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.; and Visa Inc.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer maker, is in talks with Israel’s government about merging with its smaller rival Israel Chemicals (ICL). U.S.-listed shares of Potash are up 1 per cent in the premarket.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
One of the world's top performing stock markets? Iran. The Tehran Stock Exchange has gained almost 28 per cent in the past three months. A rare haven in the country, it gives investors an opportunity to buy into companies that have benefitted from sanctions.
The debt crisis that began in 2007, the subsequent slide in equities and policy-fueled attempts to resuscitate flatlining markets have prompted investors to add a new breed of sentiment indicators to the mass of data on which they base decisions.
There are two things that the mainstream financial media never discuss: time frames and position sizing.
The bull market in energy remains intact.
For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities