Ahead of the Bell: Dow futures are trading up 17 points and S&P futures are trading up 3 points. Confidence is building that the US economy might be getting back on track with the surprisingly positive retail data yesterday, coupled with February's non-farm payroll report last week. According to reports, economists now believe the economy is on course to grow about 2.5% in the first quarter of 2013. Both political parties in Washington still remain far apart over the budget negotiations on spending cuts, despite efforts by President, Barack Obama to convince congressional leaders of his proposal.
On the economic calendar today, the Labor Department will release weekly jobless before the market opens, 350K is expected compared with 340K for the week prior. Producer price index for February will also be out prior to the opening bell, 0.6% is expected versus 0.2% for January.
Lara Muller, Head of CSR at Corio, opens trading to celebrate the start of the Responsible Investment Corporate Access event in Amsterdam.
Fair Impact and Tradinfo have organized the first RICA Amsterdam Conference on "Trends and Opportunities in Resource Efficiency".The RICA Conference represents a unique occasion for listed companies, investors and experts to discuss the latest issues on the next step in Resource Efficiency, such as: leads to new businesses, impact assessment of corporates & institutions and sustainable lending. NYSE Euronext hosts RICA Amsterdam.
Stocks ended higher as investors digested positive economic news as the U.S. dollar climbed to a seven month high on Wednesday. A weak Italian bond auction and disappointing data on euro zone factory output hurt the euro.
On the economic front, retail sales in February were strong, up 1.1%, despite payroll tax increases and delayed income tax returns. The bump came from gasoline prices and auto sales.
A heavy build in retail vehicles is a major factor behind business inventories rise of 1.0%. The 1.9% increase in retail auto & parts reflects strong demand for autos.