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Inside the Market

Premarket: Stocks edge higher, J.C. Penney shares dive Add to ...

U.S. stock futures this morning are pointing to a rather flat start to the North American trading day, as a mixed earnings report from bellwether Alcoa Inc. late on Monday did little to shake up market sentiment.

The Alcoa results, which kicked off what is expected to be a lacklustre first-quarter earnings season in the U.S., saw profits beat expectations thanks largely to cost cuts - but revenues came up short amid lower aluminum prices. The next big earnings reports will come Friday, when JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. release their numbers.

Overnight, most European and Asian markets moved higher after finding inspiration from softer-than-expected Chinese inflation data. There's been concern of late that inflationary pressures are on the rise in the country, which could increase pressure on policy makers to tighten monetary conditions. But the fresh numbers, which showed annual consumer inflation easing to 2.1 per cent in March from February's 3.2 per cent while a separate report showed that producer price deflation deepened, alleviated some of those concerns.

That report is also aiding advances in base metal prices this morning, with copper in particular making some strong gains for the second day in a row as miners in Chile, the world's top producer, hold a 24-hour nationwide strike for 24 hours.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on this morning. 

MARKETS:

Equities:

U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.1 per cent; Dow unchanged; Nasdaq +0.2 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.70 per cent

Shanghai composite index +0.65 per cent

Japan's Nikkei Unchanged 

London’s FTSE 100 +0.37 per cent

Germany’s DAX +0.14 per cent

France's CAC 40 +0.50 per cent

Italy's FTSE MIB +0.96 per cent

Commodities:

WTI (Nymex May) +0.28 per cent at $93.62 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Jun) -0.06 per cent at $1,571.60 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex May) +0.67 per cent at $3.39 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar up 0.0003, or 0.03 per cent, at $0.9840 (U.S.)

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said housing starts rose 0.4 per cent in March to 184,028 units. Economists expected 175,000 annualized starts.

Statistics Canada said building permits in February rose 1.7 per cent from January, below economists' expectations for a rise of 3 per cent.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Alcoa shares are down 0.7 per cent in the premarket after its first-quarter revenues came in a little shy of expectations.

J.C. Penney shares are down 8 per cent in the premarket after CEO Ron Johnson was ousted late Monday, replaced by former CEO Myron Ullman. Shares initially jumped on the news late Monday but later reversed course in volatile trade.  

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Why you should avoid DRIPs in taxable accounts.

Hedge funds and other speculators are now so negative on silver, that short positions have reached the highest level in at least 17 years. That could signal the metal is bottoming out.

Inside Apple's plans for its futuristic, $5-billion headquarters.

Be careful about cashing in your bonds to buy dividend-paying stocks.

How to get a piece of the Carl Icahn action. His Icahn Enterprises is publicly traded and has delivered 20 per cent annual gains for a decade. 

 

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

 

 

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