Another central bank has come to the rescue with a further dose of quantitative easing, paving the way for North American stocks to open higher after two straight days of modest losses.
This time, it's the Bank of Japan, announcing overnight it would increase the size of its asset purchase program by ¥10-trillion, or $126.7-billion (U.S.), to a total of about ¥80-billion. Further monetary stimulus by the bank wasn't completely unexpected, but the size of the program took traders off guard.
Markets rose overnight, particularly in Asia. U.S. stock futures in New York this morning are modestly positive, but pared gains as U.S. housing starts data at 0830 a.m. (ET) came in weaker than expected.
Gold, which benefits from the potential inflationary risks of such stimulus measures, is up about 0.3 per cent and flirting with six-month highs.
The Japanese actions followed similar moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. But the stimulus measures highlight just how concerned central bankers are about sluggish global economic growth. While stocks having been getting a lift by the stimulus measures, markets are now getting concerned that there is not much more room left for central bankers to ease monetary policy.
Here's the rundown of what else you need to know as the investing day gets underway.
Futures: Dow +0.1 per cent, S&P 500 +0.1 per cent, Nasdaq +0.2 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +1.17 per cent
Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 +0.41 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +1.19 per cent
London's FTSE 100 +0.39 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.29 per cent
Germany's DAX index +0.19 per cent
WTI (Nymex Nov) -0.73 per cent at $94.89 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.29 per cent at $1,776.60 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) +0.29 per cent at $3.80 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0002, or 0.02 per cent, at 1.0261 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
U.S. housing starts rose less than expected in August as groundbreaking on multifamily home projects fell, but the trend continued to point to a turnaround in the housing market. Starts increased 2.3 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 units, below the 765,000 economists projected. July's starts were revised to show a 733,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 746,000.
(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. releases existing home sales. Economists look for an annual rate of 4.55 million, up from the previous month's 4.47 million.
General Mills reported $548.9-million in profits in its latest quarter, up from $405.6-million a year ago and topping Wall Street expectations. Shares are up 1.2 per cent in the premarket.
Microsoft shares are down 0.1 per cent in the premarket after the tech giant announced a dividend hike late Tuesday.
Other earnings due today include Adobe Systems.
THIS MORNING'S TOP READS ON THE WEB:
With a $700 (U.S.) per share price tag, Apple is now nearly as big as Exxon and Microsoft combined.
With interest rates at all-time lows, Canadian investors are desperate for yield. But focusing only on income can often lead to a bad outcome.
One of the most respected news sources reporting to America's financial advisers is warning of a Halloween stock scare - but says thereafter it's going to be merry.
Stocks are cheap versus high-yield corporate bonds, but here's a case for favouring the latter.
Canadian investors and advisers are often unaware of how foreign withholding taxes affect returns, and the reason is simple: they're damned complicated. Here's a good explainer courtesy of Canadian Couch Potato.
Top 10 U.S. dividend stocks from Morningstar's ultimate stock-pickers.
A strategist with Bank of American Merrill Lynch is forecasting a 36 per cent jump in gold to $2,400 (U.S.) an ounce by the end of 2014.
Why U.S. bank shares could rise another 20 per cent.