Asian markets roared with delight overnight as China reported gross domestic product figures that were a little stronger than forecast and Japan released some favourable industrial production data.
Chinese stocks rose 1.4 per cent and the Nikkei in Japan posted gains of close to 3 per cent.
China saw fourth-quarter GDP growth of 7.9 per cent, edging past economists' forecasts of 7.8 per cent, as the country's commissioner for the National Bureau of Statistics declared that overall national economic performance has stabilized.
In Europe, trading is much more subdued this morning, with a drop in industrial production data in Spain and Italy keeping traders fearful of the uncertain outlook in the euro zone. Spain's industrial production fell 1.5 per cent in November, disappointing economists who had expected a 2.5 per cent rise. Italian industrial production fell 0.5 per cent, missing forecasts for a 2.0 per cent rise.
Here in North America, U.S. stock futures suggest a steady start to trading, with the focus again on corporate news and more earnings out the U.S. So far, the fourth-quarter earnings season hasn't been too shabby, with 70 per cent of the 57 companies within the S&P 500 that have already reported beating analysts' expectations.
Those Canadians looking to snap up some U.S. equities should note, however, that the loonie this morning is down nearly half a cent against the greenback.
A number of stocks are on the move, which we detail below. Among them is Research In Motion Ltd., up about 6 per cent in the premarket after Jefferies upgraded the stock to a "buy" and boosted its price target to $19.50 from $13. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek pointed out that RIM will enable corporate email on iPhones and Android devices, a "change we believe is unknown or not well understood but is important."
Now, here's a closer look at what else you need to know this morning:
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.1 per cent; Dow +0.1 per cent; Nasdaq -0.2 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +1.12 per cent
Shanghai composite index +1.40 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +2.86 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.52 per cent
Germany’s DAX -0.08 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.13 per cent
WTI (Nymex Mar) -0.16 per cent at $95.79 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Feb) -0.05 per cent at $1,689.90 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Mar) +0.38 per cent at $3.68 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0048, or 0.47 per cent, at $1.0098 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
(0830 a.m. ET) Statistics Canada reports on manufacturing sales in November. Economists expect a monthly increase of 1 per cent.
(0955 a.m. ET) Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for January. Economists expect the index to fall to 75.0 from 80.5 the prior month.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Research In Motion Ltd. shares are up about 6 per cent in the premarket after Jefferies upgraded the stock to a "buy" and boosted its price target to $19.50.
General Electric Co. shares are up 3 per cent in the premarket as it reported a 7.5 per cent rise in fourth-quarter earnings. While its earnings were in line with Street expectations, revenue came up short.
Morgan Stanley shares are up 7 per cent in premarket trading after the bank swung to profit in its latest quarter, with adjusted earnings of 45 cents beating the Street view of 27 cents.
Intel shares are down 5 per cent in the premarket. Late Thursday it reported earnings that beat Wall Street expectations but its outlook was slightly below Street forecasts and suggested its struggles with slumping PC demand will stay with it for some time.
Capital One Financial Corp. shares are down 6 per cent in the premarket as both its fourth-quarter profit and guidance missed analysts' expectations.
Netflix is up nearly 3 per cent in the premarket after Janney Capital Markets upgraded the online video provider to "buy" from "neutral" and lifted the stock's fair value estimate to $129 (U.S.).
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
The sell side indicator suggests equities may be in trouble.
You can't blame stock manipulation for Apple's recent skid.
India is planning its own ETF focused on state-run names. But is it ETF lunacy or genius?
The U.S.-China deficit may be lower than thought.
Federal Reserve officials are voicing increased concern that record-low interest rates are overheating markets for assets from farmland to junk bonds, which could heighten risks when they reverse their unprecedented bond purchases.
The premarket report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves. For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities