The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 will take a stab at fresh record highs today, as market sentiment got a boost overnight from a strong reading on imports into China.
U.S. stock futures are posting modest gains, and several major European indexes are up more than 1 per cent. The Dow ended at a record closing high on Tuesday, and the S&P 500 is only about 5 points away from its highest recorded level during a trading session.
The trend of TSX underperformance is likely to continue, however, as major commodities are edging down this morning. That includes gold. Goldman Sachs today downgraded its price forecast for the precious metal for the second time in less than two months. Commenting that "conviction in holding gold is quickly waning," Goldman now forecasts an average price of $1,545 an ounce in 2013 and $1,350 in 2014.
China surprised markets overnight by announcing the country swung to a trade deficit in March, as imports surged 14.1 per cent and exports rose at a smaller amount than economists had forecast. Expectations were that the country would report a surplus of $14.7-billion. While the report added to evidence that China's domestic consumption is strengthening, some questioned the accuracy of the data.
There's little in the way of economic figures in the U.S. or Canada today, but the U.S. Federal Reserve this afternoon will release minutes from its March 19-20 policy meeting. Following that meeting, Chairman Ben Bernanke said further improvements in the labour market were needed before tightening up on monetary policy - but the minutes may reveal some opposition among Fed members for keeping those plans intact for the long haul.
Also later today, President Barack Obama will submit his proposed 2014 budget to Congress. Opposition from Republicans means the budget document stands little chance of passing, but it will set the stage for talks on a broader debt-reducing plan to come.
Now, here's a closer look at what's going on this morning.
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.3 per cent; Dow +0.3 per cent; Nasdaq +0.4 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.75 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.01 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +0.73 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.77 per cent
Germany’s DAX +1.22 per cent
France's CAC 40 +1.32 per cent
Italy's FTSE MIB +1.66 per cent
WTI (Nymex May) -0.40 per cent at $94.13 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Jun) -0.33 per cent at $1,581.40 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) -0.22 per cent at $3.43 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0016, or 0.16 per cent, at $0.9854 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
(2 p.m. ET) The U.S. Federal Reserve Board releases the minutes of its meeting on March 19-20.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Apple Inc. and Yahoo Inc. are edging up in the premarket after Blooomberg reported that the two companies were discussing ways to collaborate more closely on mobile software. Apple shares are up 0.5 per cent and Yahoo is up 1.8 per cent - suggesting the Internet giant will open at fresh multi-year highs.
Earnings today include Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.; Constellation Brands Inc.; Family Dollar Stores Inc.; NovaGold Resources Inc.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Why the best thing to monitor during earnings season is the immediate share reaction.
The new Apple iPhone may come in different screen sizes.
The 'great rotation' is underway, but it has more to do with money going from commodities and into bonds.
Lumber prices are near their highs of the housing bubble.
Why miners are still a value trap.
This indicator suggests a multi-month gold stock rally appears likely.
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