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Premarket: Stocks set for end-of-week bounce; China equities rally Add to ...

U.S. and Canadian stock markets look set for a stronger open, with bargain hunters on the prowl after this week's 2.2-per-cent fall in the Dow Jones industrial average. 

Precious metals and crude oil are posting gains of more than 1 per cent this morning, but not all commodities are in recovery mode after this week's drubbing. Copper is down more than 1 per cent, and is on track for its biggest weekly loss in 16 months. Copper slipped into a bear market this week, as traders ditched commodities as an entire asset class. Today, the red metal came under pressure from news that rail exports of the commodity from Africa's largest producer have resumed. Copper inventories are already at high levels and the additional supplies are only compounding the oversupply situation.

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Hong Kong and Chinese stocks were the star performers overnight, getting a lift from higher commodity prices and also comments from China's head of the economic forecast department of China's State Information Center. The official predicted that China's economy may rebound in the second and third quarters of this year.

While there have been plenty of suggestions of late that U.S. markets are in need of at least a short-term correction after the big gains this year, bulls still have plenty to feed on: valuations remain reasonable in comparison with past market peaks, there's plenty of liquidity, and central bank's stimulus measures are showing few signs of ending as inflation remains subdued.

There's little in the way of U.S. economic data to drive markets today, but there are plenty of first-quarter earnings, which to date have been mixed.

We detail the latest key earnings,  and what else is going on this morning, below.

MARKETS:

Equities:

U.S. futures: S&P Toronto 60 +0.6 per cent; S&P 500 +0.6 per cent; Dow +0.5 per cent; Nasdaq +0.6 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +2.33 per cent

Shanghai composite index +2.16 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +0.73 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 +0.58 per cent

Germany’s DAX +0.51 per cent

France's CAC 40 +1.21 per cent

Italy's FTSE MIB +2.08 per cent

Commodities:

WTI (Nymex Jun) +1.06 per cent at $88.93 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Jun) +1.43 per cent at $1,412.40 (U.S.) an ounce

Silver (Comex May) +1.70 per cent at $23.64 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex May) -1.16 per cent at $3.18 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar up 0.0016, or 0.17 per cent, at $0.9765 (U.S.)

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

Statistics Canada said the consumer price index in February was up 1 per cent from a year ago, slightly below forecasts that called for a rise of 1.1 per cent.

Statistics Canada said wholesale trade in February was flat from January, below the monthly rise of 0.4 per cent economists had forecast.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Dell Inc. said a consortium led by Blackstone Management Partners LLC has decided not to submit a definitive proposal to acquire the company and is withdrawing from the process. Dell shares are down 2 per cent in the premarket.

General Electric earned 35 cents per share in its latest quarter, in line with what analysts had expected. Shares are down 2.2 per cent in the premarket.

McDonald’s Corp. reported earnings of $1.26 per share, in line with estimates, but global comparable sales fell 1 per cent and shres were down 1.7 per cent in the premarket.

Honeywell International Inc reported a 17-per-cent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by higher margins.

IBM shares are down 4.6 per cent in the premarket after the tech bellwether reported weaker-than-expected profits and revenues after the closing bell on Thursday.

Google Inc. shares are up 1.7 per cent in the premarket after late Thursday reporting profits that beat Street expectations, as its core advertising business showed strength.

Microsoft Corp. shares are up 2.1 per cent in the premarket after announcing late Thursday profits that beat Street views, although its chief financial officer announced he was leaving in the latest executive exodus.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. reported revenue of $1.09-billion, down from $1.59 billion in the year-ago quarter, below Street views. But its forecasts for revenues in the current quarter beat Street forecasts. Shares are expected to come under pressure today.

Other earnings today include: Kimberly-Clark Corp.; Schlumberger NV; State Street Corp.; SunTrust Banks Inc.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

How Goldman Sachs saw the gold crash coming that others missed.

When it comes to all those analyst ratings, you might as well just flip a coin.

The Canadian Couch Potato blog contends these new iShares ETFs are the most significant index funds to be launched in Canada in at least six months.

How to tell how well your ETF tracks its index.

Exchange-traded funds tracking gold were put to the test by the turmoil in precious-metals markets over the past week, but traders said they weathered the storm with only slight signs of stress.

Borrowing costs plunged this week for euro-zone governments.

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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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