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Benzinga Market Primer: Wednesday, March 20
Futures Rise as Investors Look Past Cyprus
U.S. equity futures rose in early pre-market trade despite the turmoil in Cyprus as lawmakers failed to pass the bailout agreement in parliament. Blackrock (NYSE: BLK ) CEO Larry Fink said that Cyprus was a non-event and said that he sees 20 percent upside for stocks once the Cyprus non-event blows over.
In other news around the markets:U.K. employment fell less than expected in February, with the total claimant count falling 1.5 thousand jobs on expectations of a five thousand jobs drop. Average weekly earnings rose 1.2 percent and the unemployment rate was in line at 7.8 percent. German producer prices fell 0.1 percent in February on expectations of a 0.2 percent rise, putting pressure on the ECB to act to counter deflationary pressures. Analysts at Merrill Lynch cut growth forecasts for China overnight, cutting the 2013 growth forecast to 8 percent from 8.1 percent. The analyst cut was based on expected further weakness in the first half of the year as the analysts cut Q1 growth forecasts from 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent and Q2 forecasts to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent. S&P 500 futures rose 5 points to 1,546.50. The EUR/USD was higher at 1.2916 after making a new 2013 low Tuesday. Spanish 10-year government bond yields fell to 5.01 percent from 5.04 percent. Italian 10-year government bond yields fell to 4.68 percent from 4.74 percent. Gold fell 0.12 percent to $1,609.30 per ounce.
Asian shares were mixed overnight in thin trade as Japanese markets were closed for a domestic holiday. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.66 percent while the CSI 30 Index, the index of the 30 largest Chinese companies, rose 3.37 percent, and the Hang Seng Index gained 0.97 percent. Also, the Korean Kospi fell 0.97 percent and Australian shares declined 0.4 percent.
European shares were higher for the first day this week on relaxed fears over Cyprus as it appears that Russia will in the end extend the nation a larger loan to prevent the bank levy tax from being implemented. The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.6 percent and the Italian FTSE MIB Index rose 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX rose 0.6 percent and the French CAC gained 0.74 percent while U.K. shares added 0.36 percent.
Commodities were mixed overnight as energy futures reversed Tuesday's losses. WTI Crude futures rose 0.38 percent to $92.50 per barrel and Brent Crude futures gained 0.38 percent to $107.82 per barrel. Copper futures gained 0.9 percent on Chinese strength. Gold was lower and silver futures rose 0.21 percent to $28.91 per ounce.
Currency markets were in clear risk-on mode as the euro and the pound gained and the yen weakened. The EUR/USD was higher at 1.2916 and the dollar rose against the yen to 95.31. Overall, the Dollar Index fell 0.2 percent on weakness against the euro, the pound, and the Canadian dollar.
Stocks moving in the pre-market included:Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM ) shares gained 5.93 percent pre-market as the company reported earnings and boosted its dividend 41 percent despite reporting weaker than expected same store sales. Francesca's Holdings (NASDAQ: FRAN ) shares rose 4.34 percent after the company reported better than expected earnings. Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE ) shares rose 6.01 percent after the company reported better than expected earnings and reiterated guidance. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) shares rose 0.49 percent pre-market as the company is rumored to have poached Adobe's chief technology officer and also on hopes of an announcement of an increased dividend due within the next few days.
Notable companies expected to report earnings Wednesday include:FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX ) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $1.39 vs. $1.55 a year ago. General Mills (NYSE: GIS ) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.57 vs. $0.55 a year ago. Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL ) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $0.54 vs. $0.58 a year ago. Lennar (NYSE: LEN ) is expected to report first quarter EPS of $0.16 vs. $0.08 a year ago. Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL ) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.66 vs. $0.62 a year ago. TearLab (NASDAQ: TEAR ) is expected to report a fourth quarter loss of $0.10 per share vs. a loss of $0.17 per share a year ago.
On the economics calendar Wednesday, MBA Mortgage Applications and Consumer Confidence are due out, but all eyes will be on the FOMC rate decision and Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference following the press release. Overnight, New Zealand is expected to report its fourth quarter GDP data and the China HSBC Manufacturing PMI is expected to be released ahead of the Eurozone Manufacturing PMI.
Good luck and good trading.
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