With no major economic announcements on the calendar, stocks are easing back up this morning after slipping for two days.
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.40% at 13,928. Futures contracts on the S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.49% to 1,503.60 and Nasdaq
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.42% to 2,725.50.
Despite outperforming its continental peers in manufacturing and service PMI, the German economy still shrank in the fourth quarter. As expected, GDP declined by 0.6% in the last three months of the year after gaining 0.2% in the previous quarter. On a yearly basis, the economy grew by 0.4%. The country's Ifo Survey for this month improved, to a 10-month high of 107.4, however. Economic sentiment improved by more than expected, as did business expectations.
Italian consumer confidence improved by 1.3 points to 86, according to the Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses. Voters will head to the polls this weekend. Right now, technocratic Prime Minister Mario Monti trails former PM Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo in opinion polls. Berlusconi promises to cancel some of Monti's taxes and even return cash to taxpayers. Grillo, a former comedian, offers all Italians a free Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and suggests not paying the country's massive debt.
The eurozone as a whole sees no immediate end to the downturn. The European Union projects that the eurozone economy will contract by 0.3% this year, down from previous estimates of a 0.1% fall. Next year, it expects 1.4% growth for the region.
Euro-area banks will repay less of their Long Term Refinancing Loans than forecast, according to the ECB. The 356 banks will return 61.1 billion euros of the second LTRO loan next week, about half the amount previously forecast.
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will speak today a the University of Chicago. Their speeches might contain some rationale and expansion on the Federal Open Markets Committee minutes that showed that some Fed chiefs believe that quantitative easing should be wound down earlier, or the level of asset purchases should be more restrained.
In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard
(NYSE:HPQ) shares rose 5.15% in after-hours trading after beating earnings expectations. HP earned $0.82 per share on $28.36 billion in revenue. Though this is a 16% drop in profit and 6% fall in sales from last year, Wall Street was more bearish on the floundering hardware company. Analysts expected $0.71 per share of earnings. All of HP's operations reported lower sales.
American International Group
(NYSE:AIG) beat expectations for the fourth quarter, but reported a loss of $2.68 per share, partly thanks to Hurricane Sandy-related outlays. Excluding one-time items, it earned $0.20 per share. CEO Robert Benmosche said that AIG bonuses will be smaller this year as the company failed to hit performance targets.
(NASDAQ:TXN) shares rose 2.59% after the company raised its dividend and increased its stock repurchasing program by $5 billion.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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