By RTT News, March 14, 2013, 06:30:00 AM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - Wall Street seems to be persisting with its economic optimism, as each incoming economic evidence serves to cement expectations concerning a sustainable recovery. The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a higher opening. Earlier in the day, Asian stocks closed mixed as Chinese worries tempered U.S. optimism. Meanwhile, the European averages have opened firmer and are currently seeing moderate strength. The jobless claims report could also give some direction to the markets, even as the overbought levels of the markets give traders the jitters.
As of 6:15 pm ET, the Dow futures are moving up 25 points, while the S&P 500 futures are adding 2.50 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are rising 5.50 points.
U.S. stocks advanced on Wednesday, helped by a breezy retail sales report released by the Commerce Department.
On the economic front, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its weekly jobless claims report at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect claims to increase to 350,000 in the week ended March 9th from 340,000 in the previous week.
Around the same time, the Labor Department will also release its producer price inflation report. The consensus expectations call for a 0.6 percent increase in producer prices and a 0.2 percent increase in core producer prices.
The Commerce Department is due to release its report on current account balance also at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect the report to reveal a current account deficit of $111.9 billion for the fourth quarter compared to a deficit of $107.5 billion in the third quarter.
In corporate news, Men's Wearhouse ( MW ) fourth quarter results trailed estimates, while its guidance was in line.
Target ( TGT ) said Terry Scully, the president of Financial and Retail Services, intends to retire in March 2014. As a result, Scully will move into a strategic advisory role, effective April 1, 2013. Separately, the company announced that it has completed the previously announced sale of its entire consumer credit portfolio to TD Bank for $5.7 billion.
Coldwater Creek ( CWTR ) reported fourth quarter results that exceeded expectations and its guidance was in line. Hot Topic ( HOTT ), which agreed to be acquired by Sycamore Partners last week, reported fourth quarter net income of 29 cents per share, higher than 21 cents per share last year. Total sales rose 11 percent to $233 million. The results were better than expected.
Christopher & Banks (CBK) reported a fourth quarter loss of 11 cents per share on net sales of $116 million. The bottom line results were ahead of expectations. The company also said it expects first quarter same store sales to increase in the low twenty percent range. Aeropostale ( ARO ), Krispy Kreme ( KKD ) and Zumiez ( ZUMZ ) are among the companies due to release their results after the close of trading.
The major Asian markets closed on a mixed mote, with the Australian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Taiwanese markets closing lower, while the rest of the major markets advanced. Traders were reacting to mixed catalysts, including continued inflow of positive economic data from the U.S. but fragility in the eurozone and a loss of economic momentum in China.
Japan continued to be the beneficiary of a weaker yen, with the Nikkei 225 average closing up 141.53 points or 1.16 percent at 12,381. Real estate, retail and housing stocks advanced strongly. Export stocks also found buying interest.
Australia's All Ordinaries ended down 60.60 points or 1.19 percent at 5,044. A majority of stocks retreated, led by material stocks. Energy, financial and consumer staple stocks also came under selling pressure. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed at 22,619, up 62.53 points or 0.28 percent.
On the economic front, a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that the economy added 71,5000 in February compared to expectations for an addition o9f 10,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent, while economists expected a rate of 5.5 percent.
In two central bank decisions from the region, the Bank of Korea left its interest rate unchanged at 2.75 percent for the fifth straight month. The decision was in line with expectations. Earlier in the day, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand also held its official cash rate unchanged at 2.5 percent.
European stocks are solidly higher amid the release of some positive corporate news and ahead of a 2-day summit of European leaders in Brussels. The leaders are set to ratify plans for structural assessment of national budgets and also discuss about a possible bailout for Cyprus. Stocks in the region are on a rebound from the lackluster sentiment witnessed yesterday in reaction to a rise in borrowing costs at a debt auction in Italy.
In corporate news, Heidelberg Cement reported higher operating profit for its fourth quarter and also forecast an increase in its operating profit in 2013. Potash maker k+S reported a decline in its fourth quarter EBIT to183.2 million euros, as revenues fell 7.8 percent to 941.6 million euros.
Lufthansa reported a 36 percent drop in its operating profit for 2012, hurt by higher fuel costs and an increase in fees, charges and taxes, while it expects operating profit to rise in 2013. Italy's Generali reported a decline in its full year profits, as impairments weighed down on results.
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