Traders are in a more optimistic mood this morning after Monday's shaky start to the month. U.S. stock futures are up and European markets are generally posting gains of more than 1 per cent in their first trading day after a four-day long weekend.
The market is expecting a rebound in U.S. factory orders when the February figures are released later this morning, along with sales data from the big auto makers that should continue to show strong appetite among consumers for purchasing new vehicles.
As long as the U.S. economy is continuing to show signs of improvement, investors are betting that this year's remarkable rally can continue without too much interruption. The S&P 500 could once again be testing record high levels later today.
Investors are largely shrugging off some economic reports out of Europe today that haven't been particularly rosy. The euro zone unemployment rate was unchanged at 12 per cent in February from January; the numbers in Greece and Spain were particularly dismal, with the jobless rates in both nations both near 26 per cent. Meanwhile, a final purchasing managers' index for the euro zone dropped to a three-month low of 46.8 from 47.9 in February, signifying continued contraction in the factory sector.
Now, here's a closer look at what else is going on this morning and what's to come.
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.4 per cent; Dow +0.4 per cent; Nasdaq +0.6 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.31 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.29 per cent
Japan's Nikkei -1.09 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +1.02 per cent
Germany’s DAX +1.27 per cent
France's CAC 40 +1.14 per cent
Italy's FTSE MIB +0.56 per cent
WTI (Nymex May) -0.02 per cent at $97.05 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Jun) -0.19 per cent at $1,597.90 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) -0.15 per cent at $3.37 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0040, or 0.41 per cent, at $0.9876 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
(10 a.m. ET) U.S. releases factory orders. They are expected to have rebounded 3 per cent in February after a 2 per cent fall in January.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
North American auto makers reveal their latest sales. Total sales are forecast to slow to 15.3 million, on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 15.4 million in February.
Apple shares are down 0.3 per cent in the premarket after Goldman Sachs removed the stock from its "conviction buy" list but maintained a "buy" rating.
Hewlett-Packard shares are down 4.3 per cent in the premarket after Goldman Sachs downgraded the computer maker to "sell" from "neutral" and set a $16 price target. Goldman said sentiment for the stock has "moved ahead of reality" given negative trends for desktop PCs.
Research In Motion Ltd. shares are up 1.9 per cent in the premarket after gaining about 1.7 per cent on Monday amid continued optimism for its new smartphone devices.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Morningstar's outlook for the stock market: It's time to be selective.
U.S. dividend payouts continue to rise, even after the surge in the fourth quarter that was sparked by tax changes.
The sell side remains extremely bearish.
Anti-correlation between stocks and bonds is still high.
10 things financial advisers don't say.
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