Wall Street seems to be mustering optimism before a key housing report, with index futures pointing to a modestly higher opening on Wednesday. Application software giant Oracle (ORCL) reported forecast-beating results, which should increase confidence in the sustainability of corporate profit growth. After Asian stocks closed mostly lower, the European averages are in the green. The U.S. existing home sales report to be released shortly after the markets may now give direction to the markets.
As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are rising 31 points, the S&P 500 futures are adding 4.30 points and the S&P 500 futures are gaining 5.75 points.
U.S. stocks retreated on Tuesday, as growth worries took hold after a Chinese move to raise retail fuel prices. The major U.S. averages opened lower and slipped further in early trading. The averages pared their losses over the course of the session but still closed lower.
On the economic front, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to speak on "The European Economic and Financial Situation" before the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, U.S. House of Representatives at 9 am ET.
The National Association of Realtors is scheduled to release its report on existing home sales for February at 10 am ET. Economists estimate existing home sales of 4.61 million for the month compared to a 4.3 percent increase in the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units in January.
The Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its weekly petroleum inventory report for the week ended March 16th at 10:30 am ET. A report released by the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday showed that crude oil stockpiles fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week ended March 16th. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 1.4 million barrels, while distillate inventories rose by 596,000 barrels.
In corporate news, Oracle's (ORCL) third quarter earnings exceeded estimates, while its revenues were broadly in line.
Jabil Circuit's (JBL) second quarter core earnings were in line, while revenues exceeded estimates. For the third quarter, the company expects core earnings of 60-70 cents per share on net revenues of $4.2 billion to $4.4 billion. The guidance surrounded the consensus estimates.
AAR (AIR) said its third quarter rose to 50 cents per share from 44 cents per share last year, as revenues improved to $534.2 million from last year's $458 million. The results were ahead of estimates.
Cintas (CTAS) reported third quarter earnings of 58 cents per share compared to 41 cents per share last year. Revenues climbed 7.9 percent to $1.01 billion. The earnings were better than expected, while the revenues beat estimates. The company raised its 2012 earnings per share guidance to $2.24-$2.27 per share, above the consensus estimate of $2.20 per share.
On Assignment (ASGN) announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire technology staffing firm Apex Systems for $600 million, including debt. On a pro forma basis, the combined revenues of the companies are $1.3 billion in 2011.
Clarcor (CLC), Discover Financial Services (DFS), H.B. Fuller (FUL), Herman Miller (MLHR), Shoe Carnival (SCVL) and Sonic (SONC) are among the companies due to release their quarterly results after the markets close.
Asian stocks ended mostly lower, weighed down by the negative lead from Wall Street overnight.
The Japanese market, which opened after Tuesday's public holiday, retreated moderately. The Nikkei 225 Index languished below the unchanged line throughout the session before closing down 55.50 points or 0.55 percent at 10,087. A majority of stocks declined, with financial stocks seeing particular weakness.
Australia's All Ordinaries extended its slide, dropping 18.60 points or 0.43 percent to 4,347. Material stocks led the retreat. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended down 31.61 points or 0.15 percent at 20,857.
On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite Index rose marginally and India's Sensex rallied strongly.
The major European markets are seeing a rebound following a 2-day slide.
In corporate news, Spanish retailer Inditex reported a 12 percent increase for its full year on strong expansion in Asia. U.K. grocer Sainsbury also saw an increase in its full year sales. Italian insurer Generali reported a decline in its 2011 profits and also cut its dividend by more than half.
The U.K. Chancellor George Osborne is set to unveil the government's budget, with experts expecting a budget targeting low and middle-income earning people.
Commodities are rebounding and risk currencies are finding favor among buyers.
by RTT Staff Writer
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