US investors pushed stocks higher this morning before the Fed releases the minutes of its latest meeting and President Obama submits his budget proposal to Congress.
The 2014 budget, already two months late, has a controversial measure that would create "$230 billion in savings from using a chained measure of inflation for cost-of-living adjustments throughout the budget, with protections for the most vulnerable." Put bluntly, retirees' Social Security payments will slowly fall relative to inflation. Liberals are already coming out against the idea.
At 2 p.m., the Federal Reserve will release the details of its March 19-20 meeting. Policy easing and interest rates are not expected to change, but the minutes might contain expressions by voting members that they might change earlier than initially planned.
China posted a surprise trade deficit as demand for imports outstripped exports. China imported $884 million more than it exported, missing forecasts of a $14.7 billion dollar surplus. The surge in demand for foreign products should allay fears that Chinese consumers and businesses are scaling back spending.
Spanish industrial production fell 6.5% on an annual basis in February, the 18th straight month of contraction. Italian factory output also fell by 3.8% over the year earlier, faring even worse than economists expected. On a brighter note, French production was a positive surprise, rising 0.7% on a monthly basis after dropping 0.8% in January. The growth was mostly due to a surge in production of coke and petroleum products. Most economists expect France to report that the economy contracted in the first quarter.
Asian and European equities rallied overnight, and US stocks are pushing higher in pre-market trading. Dow
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures gained 0.32% at 14,657. S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.30% to 1,567.80 and Nasdaq
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures advanced 0.41% to 2,809.00.
(NASDAQ:AAPL) and Yahoo
(NASDAQ:YHOO) both rose in premarket trading on reports that Yahoo's CEO met with Apple's head of Internet services to talk about how Yahoo's various media products can integrate with iOS, the software that powers the iPhone and iPad. One possibility is using Yahoo search to power more Siri searches.
The World Trade Organization cut its forecast of global trade in 2013. The WTO now expects trade to increase by 3.3% worldwide. Initially, the organization predicted that trade would gain 4.5% after rising only 2% in 2012.
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