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Stocks May Open Higher On Upbeat JPMorgan Earnings News - U.S. Commentary

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After ending the previous session little changed, stocks are likely to move to the upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 227 points.

Early buying interest is likely to be generated in reaction to upbeat earnings news from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), with the financial giant moving significantly higher in pre-market trading.

The advance comes after JPMorgan kicked off the earnings season by reporting record first quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded analyst estimates.

The better than expected results from JPMorgan may offset some of the recent concerns about corporate results for the quarter.

Trading activity may remain somewhat subdued, however, as a slew of big-name companies are scheduled to release their results next week.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in import prices in March, reflecting another spike in prices for fuel imports.

The Labor Department said import prices climbed by 0.6 percent in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 1.0 percent in February.

Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

The report said export prices also increased by 0.7 percent in March, matching the upwardly revised advance in February.

Export prices had been expected to edge up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its preliminary report on consumer sentiment in the month of April. The consumer sentiment index is expected to edge down to 98.0 in April after climbing to 98.4 in March.

Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Thursday before eventually ending the day little changed. The major averages spent a big chunk of the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

While the S&P 500 inched up 0.11 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,888.32, the Dow edged down 14.11 points or 0.1 percent to 26,143.05 and the Nasdaq dipped 16.88 points or 0.2 percent to 7,947.36.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has climbed by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are jumping $0.88 to $64.46 a barrel after tumbling $1.03 to $63.58 on Thursday. Meanwhile, after plunging $20.60 to $1,293.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are inching up $1.40 to $1,294.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 111.98 yen compared to the 111.66 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1318 compared to yesterday's $1.1253.

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