Greek hopes lift U.S., Europe markets


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Stock futures are inching higher again today as investors remain hopeful of a positive outcome to the Greek financing crisis.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq are up by less than 0.2 percent after slightly larger gains across the Atlantic. The German DAX led European markets with a 0.6 percent increase, while France's CAC-40 rose about 0.32 percent.

The performance was stronger in Asia, where Chinese and Japanese equities surged 1-2 percent on optimism that China's central bank will loosen monetary policy. The move followed a comment by an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that the country could "move shortly" to help overcome the effects of the European debt crisis.

For a second straight day, the foreign-exchange market is showing a broad theme of risk appetite. The euro, and Australian dollar are higher against the greenback, while safety currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc are down. This follows a surge of buying in the euro shortly after U.S. equities began trading yesterday and may indicate that significant short positions still need to be unwound.

The picture in commodities is also mostly bullish. Oil is up almost 1 percent, following the strength in the euro, and silver climbed about one-third of a percent. Copper also climbed 1 percent, and most of the agricultural commodities are fractionally higher. Gold is little-changed.

In company-specific news, Walt Disney, Western Union, and Panera Bread all fell after reporting weak top-line growth after yesterday's close. Disney's per-share earnings were $0.80 for the last quarter, beating the $0.72 estimate, but revenue was just $10.78 billion versus the expected $11.18 billion. DIS is down more than 1 percent before the bell.

WU reported revenue of only $1.43 billion, about $10 million below consensus, sending the stock down almost 7 percent. PNRA is also down 3 percent after fourth-quarter sales totaled $495.77 million, compared with expectations of $499 million.

There have been no major economic reports in the last two sessions, but activity returns tomorrow with weekly jobless claims and wholesale trade data.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

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