The TSX is poised to open higher this morning, with strong gains likely in the materials and energy sectors, after data overnight showed a surprise burst in December export growth in China.
U.S. stock index futures this morning are modestly higher, but copper and oil are in full-blown rallying mode, with gains of well over 1 per cent.
China is the world's biggest consumer of industrial metals and energy, and the trade figures were stunningly strong. Exports rose 14.1 per cent and imports grew 6 per cent, picking up considerable pace from November when exports rose a modest 2.9 per cent and imports were flat. A broad measure of Chinese credit growth also rose sharply.
While the figures certainly underlined the ongoing theme of late that China's economic growth is starting to pick up steam again, economists caution not to read too much into just one month's worth of trade statistics. A number of one-time factors could be behind the surprise gains, including iPhone 5 production and rushed shipments after the end of a port strike in California. The World Bank predicts 2013 economic growth of 7.5 per cent in China, which is pretty similar to 2012. Private economists' forecasts for next year range from 6 per cent to well over 8 per cent.
Europe is also in focus today. The Bank of England and the European Central Bank, predictably, held steady on interest rates this morning. ECB President Mario Draghi is holding his monthly news conference, forecasting a gradual economic recovery in 2013 but warning of downside risks.
The credit market is signalling there may be some reason for optimism. Spain's benchmark government bond yields fell below 5 per cent to a 10-month low after seeing strong demand at an auction today. Italy also saw strong demand for its bonds during an auction this morning.
Now, here's a closer look at what else you need to know this morning:
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.5 per cent; Dow +0.4 per cent; Nasdaq +0.7 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.58 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.38 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +0.70 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.09 per cent
Germany’s DAX +0.24 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.20 per cent
WTI (Nymex Feb) +1.53 per cent at $94.52 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Feb) +0.54 per cent at $1,664.40 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Mar) +1.23 per cent at $3.72 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0028, or 0.28 per cent, at $1.0151 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
U.S. new jobless claims came in at 371,000 last week, higher than the 362,000 that were forecast, but down slightly from 372,000 the previous week.
Statistics Canada said the new housing price index rose 2.2 per cent in November from a year ago, in line with forecasts.
Statscan said building permits plunged 17.9 per cent in November from October, much steeper than the 5 per cent drop that economists had expected.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Nokia shares are up 20 per cent in the premarket after the smartphone maker pre-released better-than-expected fourth-quarter figures and said its Lumia sales jumped to 4.4 million units during the three-month period.
Tiffany & Co said its net worldwide sales during the holiday season had risen 4 per cent and that earnings would come in at the low end of its previous guidance of $3.20 to $3.40 (U.S.) per share. Shares are down 8 per cent in the premarket.
Ford Motor Co. has doubled its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share, for a yield close to 3 per cent, citing its strong balance sheet and positive business performance. Shares are up 2 per cent in the premarket.
Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. posted net profit of 26 cents per share in its latest quarter, up 10 per cent from 23 cents in the year-earlier period.
Astral Media Inc. posted a $59.6-million profit in the first quarter, compared to $55.8-million in the same quarter last year. Revenue was flat, gaining 1 per cent to $271-million.
Other earnings out today include Com Dev International Ltd. and Sandvine Corp.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Sadly, Bob Haugen, father of low-volatility investing, died on Sunday. In October he joined Inside the Market for his first and only live discussion. Here's a transcript of the chat, and a look back at his investing beliefs via MarketWatch.
While fund flows may start moving in the direction of the equity market from bonds, it's unlikely there'll be any "great rotation" as some speculate.
Why holding Canadian government debt, rather than U.S. Treasuries, is a better bet for American investors.
How to avoid the No. 1 mistake made by bond fund investors.
Why high-yield bonds aren't nearly as risky as most investors believe.
This could be the most important lesson for investors after the last five years of brutal returns: sit tight.
Blackstone Group, the largest U.S. private real estate owner, has accelerated purchases of single-family homes as prices have jumped faster than it expected.
The Dow Jones transportation index is closing in on an all-time high.
The ETF deathwatch for this month.
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