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Stocks May Rebound After Alcoa Reports Surprise Profit - U.S. Commentary

After moving sharply lower over the course of the previous session, stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Wednesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 79 points.

Stocks are likely to benefit from a positive reaction to the release of quarterly results from aluminum giant Alcoa (AA), which kicked off the earnings season after the close of trading on Tuesday.

Alcoa reported first quarter adjusted income from continuing operations of $0.10 per share, surprising analysts, who had expected the company to report a loss of $0.04 per share. The company also reaffirmed its outlook for 7 percent growth in global aluminum demand in 2012.

Fellow Dow component Chevron (CVX) also provided some upbeat earnings news, as the oil giant said it expects its first quarter earnings to come in higher than in the fourth quarter.

On the economic front, the Labor Department recently released a report showing a 1.3 percent increase in import prices in the month of March. The price growth, which followed a 0.1 percent drop in February, exceeded analyst estimates for a 1.0 percent increase.

The report also showed that export prices rose by 0.8 percent in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. Economists had expected export prices to increase by 0.3 percent.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is due to release its Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the twelve Federal Reserve districts. The report is typically released about two weeks before a monetary policy meeting is held.

Stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the trading day on Tuesday, adding to the steep losses posted on Monday. Renewed concerns about the global economic outlook contributed to another day of broad based selling pressure.

The major averages moved roughly sideways going into the close, ending the session near their worst levels of the day. The Dow tumbled 213.66 points or 1.7 percent to 12,715.93, the Nasdaq plunged 55.86 points or 1.8 percent to 2,991.22 and the S&P 500 plummeted 23.61 points or 1.7 percent to 1,358.59.

With the steep losses on the day, the Dow fell to its lowest closing level in over two months, while the S&P 500 set a one-month closing low.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Wednesday following the sell-off seen on Wall Street overnight. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are moving back to the upside following the sharp drop seen in the previous session. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has risen by 0.7 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are advancing by 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.35 to $101.37 a barrel after falling $1.44 to $101.02 a barrel on Tuesday. An ounce of gold is trading at $1,657.90, down $2.80 from the previous session's close of $1,660.70. In the previous session, the precious metal rose $16.80.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 80.91 yen compared to the 80.67 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.3125 compared to yesterday's $1.3082.

by RTT Staff Writer

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