U.S. Stocks May See Further Upside In Early Trading

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After rallying to new record highs in the previous session, stocks are likely to see further 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 55 points.

The markets may continue to benefit from yesterday's strong U.S. economic data, with upbeat economic data from China adding to optimism about a global economic recovery.

A report from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the Chinese economy saw record growth in the first quarter, as GDP spiked 18.3 percent year-over-year.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a substantial rebound in new residential construction in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said housing starts skyrocketed by 19.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.739 million in March after plunging by 11.3 percent to a revised rate of 1.457 million in February.

Economists had expected housing starts to spike by 13.5 percent to a rate of 1.613 million from the 1.421 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the bigger than expected increase, housing starts reached their highest level since hitting an annual rate of 1.802 million in June of 2006.

The jump in housing starts may help alleviate some of the recent concerns about rising home prices due to a lack of inventory.

Upbeat earnings news may also generate buying interest, as Morgan Stanley (MS) joins other financial giants in reporting better than expected first quarter earnings.

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 jump to 89.6 in April after spiking to 84.9 in March.

Stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Thursday, more than offsetting the pullback seen on Wednesday. The Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs, while the Nasdaq ended the day at its best closing level in two months.

The major averages reached new highs in late-day trading before giving back some ground going into the close. The Dow jumped 305.10 points or 0.9 percent to 34,035.99, the Nasdaq soared 180.92 points or 1.3 percent to 14,038.76 and the S&P 500 surged up 45.76 points or 1.1 percent to 4,170.42.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are up by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are inching up $0.06 to $63.52 a barrel after rising $0.31 to $63.46 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after soaring $30.50 to $1,766.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are climbing $15.60 to $1,782.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.85 yen versus the 108.76 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1980 compared to yesterday's $1.1967.

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