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Chinese Assurance Enlivens Wall Street


Sentiment on Wall Street seems to have reversed, as indicated by the U.S. index futures, which point to a fairly upbeat start on Wednesday. With reassurance coming from none other than China-the hot and happening economy, the world finally seems to have find solace. The encouragement triggered an across-the-board rally in the global markets.

Even as the cues remain promising, a slew of first-tier economic data due to be released later could turn the tide. Traders may closely track the results of a regional manufacturing survey, the industrial production report for January and the FOMC minutes for trading cues.

As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are rising 69 points, the S&P 500 futures are adding 7.70 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are advancing 15.50 points.

U.S. stocks languished much of Tuesday's session below the unchanged line before closing on a mixed note. The previous session's decline came amid the release of a lukewarm headline retail sales number and the ongoing anxieties about the situation in Greece.

On the economic front, the New York Federal Reserve is due to release the results of its manufacturing survey for February at 8:30 am ET. The headline general business conditions index for February is expected to come in at 14.75 after it improved to 13.5 in January.

The Federal Reserve's industrial production report is due out at 9:15 am ET. Economists estimate 0.7 percent growth in industrial production for January. In December, output had risen 0.4 percent, aided by solid manufacturing output growth.

The National Association of Homebuilders is scheduled to release the results of its February survey on homebuilders' confidence at 10 am ET. The consensus estimates call for an increase in the index to 26.

The Federal Reserve is due to release the minutes of its January 24th-25th meeting at 2 pm ET.

Additionally, the Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its weekly petroleum inventory report for the week ended February 10th at 10:30 am ET.

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher is scheduled to speak to the Texas Manufacturers Summit 2012 and then to the media at 9:15 am ET.

In corporate news, Hartford (HIG) may be in focus after Paulson & Co., holding 8.4 percent stake in the company, has filed a 13D with the SEC so that the company can begin to engage in discussions with its shareholders relating to a spin-off of its property and casualty insurance business.

Valmont (VMI) reported better than expected fourth quarter results. The company also issued 2012 guidance that came in above estimates.

Foot Locker (FL) announced a 9 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 18 cents per share. The company also announced a $400 million stock buyback program.

Weight Watchers (WTW) said it has launched a modified Dutch offer tender to offer of up to $720 million of its shares. Separately, the company reported fourth quarter earnings in line with estimates, while revenues missed expectations.

Stericycle (SRCL) said its board has unanimously elected Charles Alutto, the company's president, to succeed as its CEO, effective January 1st, 2013.

MetLife's (MET) fourth quarter operating earnings came in ahead of estimates.

PolyOne (POL) said its board has approved a 25 percent in its quarterly dividend to 5 cents per share.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Comcast (CMCSA), Constellation Energy (CEG), Dean Foods (DF), Deere (DE), Devon Energy (DVN), Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS), Henry Schein (HSIC), Six Flags (SIX) and Talisman Energy (TLM)) are among the companies due to release their quarterly results.

Companies scheduled to report their quarterly results after the markets close include Agilent (A), Avis Budget (CAR), Blue Nile (NILE), CBS (CBS), Georgia Gulf (GGC), Kinross (KGC), NetApp (NTAP). Netease.com (NTES), Nvidia (NVDA), RealNetworks (RNWK) and Vulcan Materials (VMC).

The major Asian markets advanced strongly, as Chinese central bank governor's speech on the nation's confidence that the eurozone debt wounds will heal and that China will continue to invest in eurozone assets lent support to stocks.

Japan's Nikkei 225 ended up 230.47 points or 2.55 percent at 9,283, its highest closing level since August 5th, 2011. Meanwhile, Australia's All Ordinaries tacked on 8.50 points or 0.20 percent before closing a volatile session at 4,327. A report released by the Westpac showed that consumer confidence rose 4.2 percent in February, benefiting from two interest rate cuts announced by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 447.40 points or 2.14 percent to 21,365.

European stocks are also advancing strongly amid expectations that Greece will soon get a second round of bailout package. The expectations strengthened after reports said that Greek conservative party leader Antonis Samaras, who is likely to become Greece's next prime minister after April elections, will deliver a letter of commitment to the country's international lenders this morning to implement tough austerity measures.

Meanwhile, the Eurogroup has cancelled a meeting scheduled for later today to discuss the Greek bailout.

Among the GDP reports released by the eurozone region, Germany reported a decline in its fourth quarter GDP, marking the first contraction since the first quarter of 2009. Meanwhile, the French statistical office Insee reported today that the French economy expanded 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared with economists' expectation for a 0.2 percent contraction.

A report released by the U.K. Office for National Statistical Office showed that the U.K.'s unemployment rate for the three months ended December rose to a 16-year higher, while the claimant count rose to a 2-year high in January.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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