The Obama administration has come under pressure to ease
regulations on US natural gas exports in light of the current
situation in Ukraine.
Currently, US law keeps natural gas companies from exporting to
countries which aren't free-trade partners. However, as a tool to
increase leverage on Russia, which currently supplies nearly 70
percent of Ukraine's natural gas, lawmakers are pushing for the
administration to loosen the rules.
In other news around the markets:
As part of a federal probe into General Motors handling of a
potentially deadly defect in their cars, safety regulators have
asked the company to answer 107 questions to clarify why the auto
maker didn't issue a recall for almost 10 years. GM is required to
reply by April 3rd, or it will face a $7,000 per day late penalty.
The European Central Bank is set to hold its monthly policy meeting
later on Thursday amid speculation that the bank will ease further
in order to combat the bloc's falling inflation. Most expect that
the bank will refrain from cutting its key interest rate and
instead inject funds into the region's banking system through asset
purchases or its Long-Term Refinancing Operations. The US Beige
Book, released on Wednesday, was the latest in a string of economic
data negatively affected by the nation's severely cold winter. In
the report, the Fed described the US economy's growth as "modest to
moderate"; but most still expect the bank to continue tapering its
monetary stimulus in March. Western diplomats gathered in Paris in
an attempt to get Russia and Ukraine to begin direct negotiations,
however their efforts failed. Officials tried to get Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Andrii Deshchytsia to speak in person, but the two refused.
Asian markets continued to improve on Thursday, the Japanese
NIKKEI was up 1.59 percent, the Shanghai composite gained 0.32
percent and the Shenzhen composite was up 0.21 percent. The Hang
Seng index was up 0.55 percent and the South Korean KOSPI was up
European markets were up across the board on the prospect of
further easing from the ECB. The UK's FTSE gained 0.39 percent, the
eurozone's STOXX 600 was up 0.49 percent, the German DAX gained
0.37 percent and France's CAC 40 was up 0.71 percent.
Energy futures were mixed, Brent futures gained 0.14 percent but
WTI futures were down 0.25 percent. Gold lost 0.51 percent and
silver was down 0.55 percent. Industrial metals were mostly lower
with copper posting the largest loss, down 0.39 percent.
The euro was steady at $1.373 ahead of the ECB meeting and the
pound lost 0.04 percent to the dollar. The greenback gained 0.38
percent against the yen and lost 0.56 percent against the
Notable earnings released on Wednesday included:
PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:
) reported second quarter EPS of $1.28 on revenue of $1.80 billion,
compared to last year's EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $1.88 billion.
Brown Forman Corporation (NYSE:
) reported third quarter EPS of $0.82 on revenue of $1.08 billion,
compared to last year's EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $1.03 billion.
MYR Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:
) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.46 on revenue of $254.60
million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.46 on revenue of $247.76
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:
) gained 0.48 percent in premarket trade after rising 3.49 percent
over the past week. Carnival Corp (NYSE:
) fell 0.89 percent in premarket trade after losing 0.86 percent on
Notable earnings releases expected on Thursday include:
Costco Wholes Sale Corporation. (NASDAQ:
) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $1.17 on revenue of
$26.67 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.10 on revenue of
$24.87 billion. Kroger Company (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.60 on revenue of
$22.67 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.51 on revenue of
$21.73 billion. Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.04 on revenue of
$44.20 million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.01 on revenue of
$44.90 million. Joy Global Inc. (NYSE:
) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.64 on revenue of
$835.38 million, compared to last year's EPS of $1.31 on revenue of
The European Central Bank's policy meeting will take top bill on
Thursday's economic calendar; but investors will also be watching
for US factory orders, US initial and continuing jobless claims,
and the Bank of England's interest rate decision.
For a recap of Wednesday's market action, click .
Tune into Benzinga's pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and
© 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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