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Wall Street Remains Hopeful Despite Extended Gains


The U.S. index futures point to a flat open on Friday after the averages closed at fresh multi-year highs in the previous session. The overbought markets still hopefully look ahead to the incoming economic evidence in order to keep the upward momentum going. The Federal Reserve's industrial output report for February and the Reuters and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey may give some direction to the markets.

As of 6:30 am ET, the Dow futures are rising 8 points, the S&P 500 futures are edging up 0.50 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are up 1 point.

U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday, as economic data, including manufacturing and jobless claims readings offered solace that all is well with the economy.

On the economic front, the Labor Department is set to release its consumer price inflation report for February at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect the headline index to have increased 0.5 percent compared to a 0.2 percent increase in core inflation. In January, the headline and core consumer prices rose 0.2 percent each.

The Federal Reserve's industrial production report is due out at 9:15 am ET. Economists estimate 0.5 percent growth in industrial production for February following flat outperformance in the previous month.

The preliminary report of the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey for March is scheduled to be released at 9.55 am ET. The consumer sentiment index is expected to edge down to 75.3 from February's 76.

In corporate news, UPS (UPS) reiterated that it remains in constructive discussions with TNT Express regarding a potential purchase of the entire issued share capital of TNT Express.

Mylan (MYL) said its Canadian subsidiary has received approval from Health Canada for Mylan-Rosuvastatin Calcium tablets of strength 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg. The tablets are a generic version of AstraZeneca's cholesterol drug Crestor.

Fluor (FLR) was awarded a government contract to offer technical assistance and project management services for recovery efforts after national disasters. The contract has a potential value of up to $500 million over 5 years.

Quicksilver (KWK) said the filing of its 10-K statement for the year ended December 31st, 2011 will be delayed beyond the extended due date of March 15th due to efforts to complete its 2011 integrated contract and financial statement audit. JDA Software (JDAS) also announced a delay in the filing of its 10-K report with the SEC beyond the extended due date of March 15th, 2012.

Panera Foods (PNRA) announced the appointment of its founder and executive Chairman and President and CEO bill Moreton as co-CEOs, effective immediately.

The major Asian markets closed another lackluster session mostly lower, with the jittery mood primarily reflecting the uneasiness of traders over the overbought levels.

After remaining below the unchanged line for the better part of the session, Japan's Nikkei 225 average sneaked above the unchanged line in late trading. The index closed up 6.55 points or 0.06 percent at 10,130.

Australia's All Ordinaries closed down 2.20 points or 0.05 percent at 4,365 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed 35.68 points or 0.17 percent lower at 21,318. Meanwhile, China's Shanghai Composite added 1.30 percent following a late session rally and India's Sensex reacted to the budget presentation, closing down 1.27 percent at 17,466.

The major European averages are trading higher amid some volatility, with the French CAC 40 Index, German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index all rising modestly.

Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund approved a 28 billion euro-loan to Greece as part of the second bailout package even as it remained skeptical about the nation's ability to successfully implementing the required reforms to bring in fiscal discipline.

In corporate news, Credit Agricole said it expects its first quarter to benefit from a debt buyback gain, which could offset the losses from its exposure to tarnished Greek sovereign debt. Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) announced a deal to buy medical device company Pluromed. The company did not disclose the terms of the transaction.

In the lone piece of significant economic evidence from the region, Eurostat reported that the eurozone's trade balance showed a deficit of 7.6 billion euros in January compared to a surplus of 9.1 billion euros in December.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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