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Wall Street Looks To Finish Quarter On Firmer Note


The markets, which have been having a scintillating run for much of the quarter, seem to be heading for a flourishing finish, as indicated by the index futures, which point to a moderately higher open on Wall Street on Friday. Meanwhile, sentiment may change, as Main Street boasts of three major market moving economic releases in its calendar. The direction of commodity prices and eurozone finance ministers' meeting scheduled to being in Copenhagen later today may also create some ripples.

As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are adding 56 points, the S&P 500 futures are gaining 6.80 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are moving up 13.50 points.

On the economic front, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is due to release its personal income & outlays report for February. Economists expect the report, which is due out at 8:30 am ET, to show that personal income rose 0.4 percent and personal spending increased by 0.6 percent. In January, personal consumption rose by a mere 0.2 percent month-over-month.

The results of the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago's business survey for March are scheduled to be released at 9:45 am ET. Economists expect the business barometer index based on the survey to slip to 63 from 64 in February.

Additionally, the Reuters and the University of Michigan's final report on the consumer sentiment index for March is scheduled to be released at 9:55 am ET. The consumer sentiment index is expected to be upwardly revised to 75 from the mid-month reading of 74.3.

In corporate news, Micron Technology (MU) announced that it has reached an agreement with Oracle to settle a lawsuit filed by Oracle against the company in a U.S. district court, alleging that Micron illegally jacked up DRAM process and violated anti-trust laws.

AstraZeneca (AZN) said a U.S. district court has found the formulation patent protecting SEROQUEL extended release tablets to be valid and has ruled that generic drug makers, including Mylan (MYL) have infringed the patent.

Research In Motion's (RIMM) fourth quarter results were worse than expected. The company also said it would no longer provide quantitative guidance, citing competitive pressure among other reasons.

TIBCO Software (TIBX) said its board has authorized the repurchase of up to $300 million worth of its common stock. The company also reported first quarter non-GAAP earnings of 20 cents per share on revenues of $225.7 million. The results were better than expected.

GenCorp. (GY) said its first quarter net income rose to 4 cents per share from 2 cents per share last year. Net sales fell to $201.9 million from the year-ago quarter's $209.8 million.

Cache (CACH) reported fourth quarter adjusted earnings that were below estimates, while its revenues were about in line with estimates. For the first quarter, the company expects a net loss of 9 cents per share and comparable store sales in the high single digit range. Additionally, the company said it expects to report higher earnings per share for the first half of 2012.

The major Asian markets ended on a mixed note, as apprehensions concerning economic health kept sentiment subdued in the wake of some insipid economic readings.

The Japanese market retreated for the third straight session, as its key Nikkei 225 average languished below the unchanged line throughout the session before closing down 31.23 points or 0.31 percent at 10,084.

Japan released a slew of data today, with core consumer prices unexpectedly rising and jobless rate retreating. Meanwhile, average household spending rose 2.3 percent year-over-year compared to a 0.5 percent drop expected by economists. A separate government report showed that Japanese industrial production fell 1.2 percent month-over-month, while economists expected a 1.3 percent increase.

Australia's All Ordinaries closed down 2 points or 0.05 percent at 4,420. Energy stocks served as a drag, while material and consumer staple stocks saw moderate buying interest.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed at 20,540, down 69.19 points or 0.34 percent. Meanwhile, India's Sensex rose over 1.50 percent and Chinese Shanghai Composite Index, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index, Malaysia's KLSE Composite Index, Singaporean Straits Times Index and the Taiwanese Weighted Average Index all ended moderately higher.

The European markets are trading higher, with the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rising about 1 percent each, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is gaining 0.61 percent.

In corporate news, Roche announced positive results from a Phase III trial of trastuzumab emtansine, a treatment for metastatic breast cancer, being co-developed with ImmunoGen (IMGN). Allied Irish reported a narrower loss for 2011, while it also said it expects to report to a profit in 2014.

Sweetener maker Tate & Lyle said its fiscal year performance got a boost from a solid performance during the final quarter that ended in March.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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