U.S. stock futures are higher this morning, pointing to the possibility that the Dow Jones industrial average could close higher today for its 10th consecutive day. That would extend the longest winning streak since 1996 and mark the eighth record-high close.
Still, traders are getting increasingly nervous that the laws of gravity will eventually kick in after the remarkable run-up in U.S. equities this year.
Economic data this morning helped to extend gains in U.S. futures, especially a surprise drop in U.S. initial jobless claims. European stocks also rose after the 830 a.m. (ET) data.
Among individual stocks, Research In Motion Ltd. will be in focus this morning following its 8.1 per cent surge on Wednesday sparked by the announcement of its largest single smartphone order ever. The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones become widely available in the U.S. later this month, and rival Samsung is revealing a new Galaxy smartphone today in New York. That promises to keep trading in the stock active, especially after its 19 per cent surge so far this week. The stock is up just over 2 per cent in the premarket this morning.
Overseas markets are higher today, although there wasn't a lot of fresh news to excite traders. Japan's Nikkei led the gains, with a rise of 1.1 per cent, amid hopes for more monetary policy easing. Australia reported much-better-than-expected employment data, even though weakness in commodity shares limited the celebration on its stock exchange.
In Europe, a two-day leaders summit starts today, with finance ministers meeting separately on Friday to talk about a bailout for Cyprus. There's speculation that policy makers could scale back austerity measures given that the recession and a woeful employment picture in southern Europe is appearing to be a more pressing concern than the region's inflated debt levels.
Now, here's a look at what else is going on this morning.
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.3 per cent; Dow +0.2 per cent; Nasdaq +0.4 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.28 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.27 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +1.15 per cent
London's FTSE 100 +0.38 per cent
Germany's DAX +1.00 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.78 per cent
Italy's FTSE MIB +1.71 per cent
WTI (Nymex Apr) -0.15 per cent at $92.72 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Apr) -0.62 per cent at $1,578.50 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) +0.14 per cent at $3.53 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0029, or 0.30 per cent, at $0.9752 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada said the new housing price index in January rose 0.1 per cent from December, matching expectations. Year-over-year, prices were up 2.2 per cent.
Statistics Canada said fourth-quarter capacity utilization was 80.7 per cent, down 0.4 of a percentage point and the lowest in a year.
U.S. initial jobless claims for last week fell 10,000 to 332,000. Economists were expected claims to creep up to 350,000.
The U.S. Commerce Department said the current account in the fourth quarter was $110.42-billion (U.S.), lower than the $113-billion that was expected.
The U.S. producer price index was up 0.7 per cent in February from the previous month, close to the 0.6 per cent rise economists had expected.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
RIM shares are up 2 per cent in the premarket after rallying 8.1 per cent on Wednesday as the company announced its largest smartphone purchase ever.
Other smartphone makers could come under pressure today as Samsung releases its new Galaxy smartphone. But so far, Apple shares are up 0.4 per cent in the premarket and Nokia is up 1.7 per cent.
Quebecor Inc. and Quebecor Media Inc. CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau is stepping down, but will continue to oversee corporate strategy. Robert Depatie, who had been CEO of the Videotron cable unit, will become new CEO.
Aurizon Mines Ltd., which is attempting to fend off a hostile takeover, said its fourth-quarter profit was less than a cent per share, six cents below the consensus estimate.
Transat A.T. Inc. said its net loss for the three months ended Jan. 31 was $15.1-million or 39 cents per share on a diluted basis, nearly half the loss of a year earlier. But revenues slid 2.8 per cent.
Other earnings today include: Crescent Point Energy Corp.; North West Co. Inc.; and Volkswagen AG
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
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The energy boom in the U.S. dollar is reshaping what moves the greenback - and it has big implications for several asset classes.
The BRIC nations increasingly look like they will no longer be the building blocks of international investing.
U.S. indexes are not hitting overbought conditions based on their relative strength index. And that is cause for concern.
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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