Wall Street Stays Cautiously Optimistic

(RTTNews.com) - Trading in the U.S. index futures suggests that Wall Street stocks may open on a mixed note, even as geopolitical concerns surrounding Ukraine continue to ease. The market may also take some heart from positive global cues. Asian stocks rebounded strongly, as Australian jobs data and Chinese trade data were encouraging. The domestic markets may also react to some earnings announcement, chain store sales to be released by retailers, jobless claims report, several Fed speeches scheduled for the day, including the Congressional testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

At 6:15 am ET, the Dow futures are rising 8 points, while the S&P 500 futures are moving down 0.75 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are declining 1.25 points.

U.S. stocks closed mixed on Wednesday, as some positive earnings and dovish comments by Yellen in her testimony before Congress encouraged traders, while negative tech earnings and valuation fears trimmed some of the optimism.

On the economic front, Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser is scheduled to speak on monetary policy in New York at 8 am ET. The Labor Department is set to release its jobless claims report for the week ended May 3rd at 8:30 am ET. Economists expect claims to have declined to 330,000 in the week from 344,000 in the previous week.

Around the same time, Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo will speak at the Chicago Fed's banking conference. Yellen is scheduled to appear before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington at 9:30 am ET. Additionally, St Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard will make remarks to the household finance conference in St. Louis at 2 pm ET. The Treasury is due to announce the results of its auction pf 30-year bonds at 1 pm ET.

In corporate news, Costco (COST) reported sales of $8.56 billion for April, up 7 percent year-over-year. Comparable store sales for the month were up 5 percent. Valmont Industries (VMI) announced the appointment of Vik Bansal to the newly created position of COO, effective July1st 2014. Dynegy's (DYN) reported a narrower first quarter loss and its revenues exceeded estimates.

Expeditors International (EXPD) reported first quarter results that were in line. Kimco Realty (KIM) reported first quarter earnings that were in line and its revenues exceeded estimates. The company affirmed its full year guidance.

Tw Telecom (TWTC) reported higher first quarter earnings and its revenues increased year-over-year and exceeded estimates. Insurers Protective Life (PL), Unum Group (UNM) and Prudential Financial (PRU) reported better than expected first quarter earnings. Avis Budget (CAR) reported better than expected first quarter results and issued positive guidance for the full year.

Cardinal Health ( CAH ) announced a 13 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $0.3425 per share and SanDisk (SNDK) said its board has approved a 33 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 33 cents per share.

Allscripts (MDRX), bebe Stores ( BEBE ), Brooks Automation ( BRKS ), CBS (CBS), Computer Sciences (CSC), News Corp. (NWS), NVIDIA (NVDA), Scientific Games (SGMS), Symantec (SYMC) and Tuesday Morning (TUES) are among the companies due to release their quarterly results after the close of trading.

The major Asian markets ended mostly higher amid encouraging developments in Ukraine and the release of some strong domestic data. The Japanese market led the gains in the region, rebounding from yesterday's sharp retreat. The New Zealand market bucked the uptrend with a moderate loss.

Japan's Nikkei 225 average ended up 130.33 points or 0.93 percent at 14,164. Australia's All Ordinaries hovered in positive territory throughout the session before closing up 36.80 points or 0.68 percent at 5,456. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed at 21,837, up 90.86 points or 0.42 percent, and China's Shanghai Composite Index added 5.19 points or 0.26 percent before closing at 2,015.

On the economic front, the General Administration of Customs reported that China's trade surplus more than doubled to $18.46 billion in April, as exports rose 0.9 percent year-over-year. At the same time, imports climbed 0.8 percent. Economists had forecast declines for both imports and exports.

The jobless rate for Australia held steady at 5.8 percent, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday. Economists had expected a small uptick in the rate to 5.9 percent. The improvement in the unemployment rate came about due to an increase in full time employment and a small drop in the participation rate.

European stocks started higher and have advanced further since then, as traders digested another flurry of earnings news flow. Two central banks decisions from the region, scheduled for later today may also impact market sentiment.

In corporate news, Barclays ( BCS ) revealed in its strategy update that it intends to eliminate 7,000 positions at its investment bank by 2015. The company also said it will create a bad bank to dispose some of its assets. Standard Chartered reported a decline in its first quarter operating profit. BT Group reported strong fourth quarter results. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom saw its first quarter drop in its core earnings. While Prudential Financial reported higher profits for its first quarter, Munich Re's first quarter profits fell year-over-year.

On the economic front, a report released by German statistical office INSEE showed that industrial production in Germany fell unexpectedly in March, marking the first decline in five months. Another report published by Lloyds Banking Group showed that U.K. house prices declined for the second consecutive month in April.

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