Equities are set to post more gains today as major indices around the globe break post-crisis records and the focus turns to improving jobs numbers in America.
Private-sector employment rose by 198,000 in February, according to ADP, a payrolls processor. Economists expected ADP to count 173,000 new jobs after 192,000 in January. This is a positive preview of Friday's jobs report, when the Bureau of Labor Services is expected to show 167,000 new non-farm jobs last month.
Economists predict that a report on January factory orders will show a 2.2% gain after rising 1.8% in December. The report is due out at 10:00 a.m. EST. The Fed's beige book is also on set for release this afternoon.
Before the opening bell, stock index futures are sinking. Dow
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.32% at 14,279 after closing at 14,253.77, breaking the previous intra-day record from October 2007. Futures on the S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) climbed 0.33% to 1,542.20 and Nasdaq
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.17% to 2,803.00.
Asian and European stocks also rose on the heels of the Dow record. European stocks rose to their highest level since the 2008 financial crisis ahead of decisions by the Bank of England and European Central Bank that might result in rate cuts or expansion of asset purchases. The Bank of Japan is also set to introduce radically dovish monetary policy at the first meeting since electing a new central bank leader. Japanese and Australian stocks also rose to multi-year highs.
Today, eurozone GDP for the fourth quarter was a second-straight 0.6% decline. Though Germany was the only major country to expand, growth slowed there while France, Spain, and Italy all contracted.
Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the center-left party with the most votes in Italy's parliament, delivered an eight-point plan for a government following the inconclusive election. First and foremost, Bersani says that Italy needs to escape the "cage of austerity" and fight against it on a European level. If Bersani fails to to form a viable coalition, President Giorgio Napolitano might appoint a new technocratic government like that of Mario Monti. Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement is against working with such a government. Hopes that a reasonable government will take shape helped stem the post-election sell-off in Italian bonds. The country's 10-year bond yield fell to 4.6% from 4.74% last night.
(NASDAQ:MSFT) shares sank 0.71% after it was fined 561 million euros by European Union regulators over violating an agreement to give Windows users a choice of Web browser besides Internet Explorer. The fine is equal to 1% of the company's 2012 revenues.
(NASDAQ:VOD) shares surged on reports that the company is considering merging with Verizon
(NYSE:VZ). The British company has a 45% stake in Verizon, and due to disagreements over leadership and headquarters of a merged company makes it more likely that Vodafone will sell some of its stake or solicit a buyout, according to Bloomberg
Also in wireless merger news, The US Department of Justice let the waiting period pass without making any antitrust objections to the merger of MetroPCS
(NYSE:PCS) and T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom
(PINK:DTEGY). The merger will be legally clear once the Federal Communications Commission and Committee on Foreign Investment sign off on it. MetroPCS shareholders will vote on the merger next month. The deal could solve T-Mobile's lack of available wireless spectrum.
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