Business News : Stocks: Focus on earnings, gold and dollar
The modern modest gains are mainly “a signal that our expectations obtained reduced to absolutely nothing,” mentioned David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor’s.
Investors remain nervous about the economy and inflation. The Fed has been pretty clear that interest rates aren’t likely to budge this year. Meanwhile, gold and silver continue to hit new highs as the U.S. dollar keeps sliding, falling to a three-year low against the euro.
Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures have been slightly greater forward of Friday’s opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks rose to multi-year highs, as traders looked beyond a series of mixed earnings reports and disappointing GDP and jobless claims reports.
Merck’s quarterly profit tripled, on strong drug sales, while Caterpillar benefited from strong demand for bulldozers and other machinery. Shares of Merck edged up 1.5%, while Caterpillar’s stock rose nearly 3%.
Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) on Friday reported a 26% jump in quarterly net income, driven by higher energy prices.
Companies: Late Thursday, Microsoft reported a 31% surge in quarterly profit, on strong Office and Kinect sales. But not all the news was good, as netbook sales fell 40%.
Microsoft’s (MSFT, Fortune 500) stock slipped 1% in premarket trading.
Research in Motion on Thursday cut its forecast for the current quarter, citing sluggish Blackberry sales. RIM’s (RIMM) stock price fell nearly 12% in premarket trading.
Economy: Before the start of trading, traders will digest data on personal income and spending. Economists polled by Briefing.com expect spending to increase to 0.5%, and income to rise 0.4% in March.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.
Oil for June delivery was up 37 cents at $113.23 a barrel.
High oil prices are here to stay
Gold futures for June delivery hit an intraday high of $1,541 per ounce early on Friday, then backed off to $1,538 an ounce.
Wyss explained that gold prices are benefiting from weakness in the dollar.
“You have to put your money somewhere,” he explained. “Right now people are afraid because of low interest rates and unsustainable budget deficits.”
Bonds: The price around the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slipped, pushing up the yield slightly to 3.32%.
World markets: On Friday, the London Stock Exchange was closed for the royal wedding.
European markets edged increased in morning trading. The DAX in Germany added 0.3% and France’s CAC 40 was flat.
Asian markets ended the session mixed. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.8%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.4%. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for holiday.
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