Stocks fell across Europe and Asia fell Thursday after Greece revealed that its 2009 deficit was a worse than anticipated 13.6% of GDP, against expectations of 12.7%. US stocks are following suit after a mixed session yesterday, but plenty of fresh data in the morning could change the markets direction.
One hour before the opening bell, Dow futures are down 30 points to 11,029 and S&P 500 futures are down 5.00 points to 1,195.25. The 2yr Treasury note is flat yielding 0.996% and the 10 year Treasury note is +0-01 at 99-02 yielding 3.741%.
Commodity prices are also weaker with WTI crude oil down 64 cents to $83.04 per barrel, while Spot Gold is trading $4.32 lower at $1,142.43.
Maintaining its flight-to-quality characteristics, the US dollar has strengthened, particularly against the euro.
In the newspapers, the Financial Times is leading with Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein calling the SEC lawsuit against his firm “political.”
In response to the comments, President Obama told CNBC the SEC did not give the administration any indication that it planned to file suit against Goldman; he added that the move was not politically motivated.
Meantime, Alan Greenspan, former Maestro of the Fed, said he is “very worried” about the long term prospects for the economy. He said the US lacks the “political ability” to reduce the deficit.
Key Events Today:
8:30 ― Producer Price Index should get little attention this month as consumer prices have already been published. In addition, inflation remains on the policy back-burner as prices remain flat or deflating. The headline is set to rise 0.4% this month ― a pace that may seem threatening ― but it follows a 0.6% drop in February. In core prices, which exclude volatile energy and food, the index is set to rise 0.1% for the second straight month.
“The energy category will likely see a limited gain as gasoline and natural gas prices were relatively quiet during the month, though electricity prices probably rose,” said economists at IHS Global Insight. “Burgeoning costs for food will account for most of the headline increase, as vegetable, meat and egg prices all moved markedly higher. Increased incentives offered by auto manufacturers helped propel car sales to an 11.8 million unit annual rate in March, and should hold down the core index, which we expect to be flat.”
8:30 ― Economists anticipate Jobless Claims to drop sharply after the unexpected increase last week, which may have been due to Easter holiday volatility. Initial claims were 484k in the week ending April 10, the highest level since February 20. In the first two weeks of April, claims have averaged 472k, much higher than the 448k in March and slightly higher than the 468k in February.
“Initial jobless claims rose by 42,000 in the first two weeks of April,” said economists from Nomura. “The Department of Labor attributed most of the increase to seasonal adjustment distortions and the clearing of a filing backlog in some areas. As these factors pass, claims should resume their steady decline.”
Also, continuing claims ― a tally of those still receiving jobless benefits ― are expected to fall 39k to 4.6 million, for the week ending April 10.
10:00 ― Existing Home Sales have been slow to make progress in the past three months, but in March the index is expected to jump nearly 5% from 5.02 million units, annualized, to 5.25 million. The strong forecasts are based on a 8.2% jump in pending home sales, an index that tracks signed contracts that haven’t been finalized (thus anticipating this index). With the tax credit for first-time homebuyers expiring at the end of April, potential buyers are finalizing transactions now.
“Great affordability and the homebuyer tax credit are providing support, though the latter is set to expire at the end of April,” said Sal Guatieri from BMO. “The expected rebound in March would return existing home sales to the middling levels that prevailed prior to the tax credit’s presumed initial expiry date in November.”
Recapping February, Ellen Zentner from BTMU said: “Existing home sales were down -0.6%, new home sales fell by -2.2% and housing starts dropped by 5.9%. In sharp contrast March home sales are set to rebound from February as pleasant weather dominated the month and another rush, albeit much smaller this time around, of first-time home buyers came forward to get the tax credit before it expires at the end of April.”
11:00 ― Treasury Department will announce the terms of next week's government debt auctions. The Treasury will sell 2 year notes, 5 year notes, and 7 year notes. New supply of debt on the market can pressure interest rates higher.