Markets recovered on Tuesday after US consumer confidence data helped brighten investors' outlook.
The figures showed that consumer attitudes rose to 82.3 in February, a six year high. The data far surpassed analysts' expectation of a 78.6 reading. Following the data's release, the US dollar rose and share markets improved. Asian markets followed suit on Wednesday morning and ticked higher.
The only dark spot was housing data which showed that new home sales dropped to a five month low in February. However, most are attributing some of the decrease in sales to the nation's extremely severe winter.
In other news around the markets:
Facebook is set to make its first ever hardware deal by acquiring Oculus VR Inc in a $2 billion dollar deal. The company makes virtual reality glasses, used primarily for gaming. The deal is Facebook's attempt to anticipate where the technology industry is headed and gain market share in the wearable devices space. In what South Korea has called a "clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions", the North Korean military fired missiles into the sea on Wednesday in a show of defiance. The ballistic missiles were launched as US President Barack Obama met with South Korean and Japanese leaders to discuss how to improve their tense relationship with Pyongyang. On Tuesday, European Central Bank officials suggested that the bank would consider extreme measures in order to keep the region from slipping into deflation. Many are now expecting the ECB to divert from its traditionally cautious approach and take the deposit rate below zero or implement an asset purchase program at the bank's April policy meeting. BlackRock Inc Chief Executive Laurence Fink added his voice to the growing criticism of activist investors' tactics this week. He privately issued a warning to big companies about the downside to the dividends and buybacks often pushed by activist investors despite his firms involvement with several such investors, saying those kinds of actions often impede long-term investment.
Asian markets were mostly higher on Tuesday's positive US data. The Japanese NIKKEI rose 0.35 percent, the South Korean KOSPI was up 1.17 percent, the Shenzhen composite gained 0.14 percent and the Hang Seng index was up 1.07 percent.
European markets were up across the board; the UK's FTSE gained 0.49 percent and the eurozone's STOXX 600 gained 0.69 percent. The German DAX rose 1.22 percent, France's CAC 40 was up 0.88 percent and Italy's MIB rose 0.59 percent.
Energy futures were mixed as the spread between Brent and WTI widened. Brent futures gained 0.21 percent while WTI futures were down 0.17 percent. Gold gained 0.18 percent, but silver was down 0.28 percent. Industrial metals were up across the board with Zinc posting the largest gains, up 2.37 percent.
Talk of the ECB easing further drove the euro down to $1.3890 on Wednesday and the pound was flat against the dollar. The dollar gained 0.01 percent against the yen but lost 0.33 percent against the Australian dollar.
Notable earnings released on Tuesday included:
Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG ) reported second quarter EPS of $0.91 on revenue of $19.61 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.96 on revenue of $18.65 billion. Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL ) reported first quarter EPS of $0.00 on revenue of $3.58 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.08 on revenue of $3.59 billion. McCormick & Company, Incorporated (NYSE: MKC ) reported first quarter EPS of $0.62 on revenue of $993.40 million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.57 per share on revenue of $934.40 million Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.18 on revenue of $779.40 million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.41 per share on revenue of $721.40 million.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE: PG ) rose 0.24 percent in premarket trade after gaining 1.90 percent over the past two days. United States Steel Corp (NYSE: X ) was up 0.18 percent in premarket trade after gaining 8.78 percent over the past week. Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL ) was down 0.47 percent in premarket trade after losing 4.95 percent on Tuesday.
Notable earnings releases expected on Wednesday include:
Paychex, Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX ) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.42 on revenue of $628.85 million, compared to last year's EPS of $0.40 on revenue of $593.30 million. Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN ) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $1.15 on revenue of $164.75 million, compared to last year's EPS of $1.50 on revenue of $175.54 million.
Wednesday's economic calendar will be relatively busy with several releases from the US and Europe including US pending home sales, US GDP, US consumer spending, British retail sales, and French consumer confidence.
For a recap of Tuesday's market action, click .
Tune into Benzinga's pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and Joel Elconin here .
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