Futures Hold Gains After Economic Reports; S&P High in Sight
U.S. stock index futures held their gains on the final trading day of the quarter, with the S&P taking another aim at its closing high level, as the calm surrounding the opening of Cyprus banks trumped a mixed bag of economic reports.
The Dow has soared nearly 11 percent this year, on pace to logging its best first-quarter in 15 years. The S&P 500 has jumped almost 10 percent. The index closed about 2 points below its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 on Tuesday.
Volume is expected to remain relatively low ahead of Good Friday. Markets will be closed in the United States and most of Europe, but banks will be open. Economic data including personal income and consumer sentiment are expected to be reported Friday.
On the economic front, the U.S. economy grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate, according to the Commerce Department, just a touch below the 0.5 percent gain expected by economists in a Reuters survey. However, the reading was higher than the government's previous estimate of a tepid 0.1 percent expansion rate.
Weekly jobless claims jumped 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, according to the Labor Department, but the gain was still in the middle of their range for the year. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 340,000.
In Europe, Cypriot banks re-opened after an almost two-week closure to relative calm. Strict capital control measures were imposed and could remain in place for weeks. Cypriots will not be allowed to withdraw more than 300 euros a day, cash checks, or take more than 3,000 euros when traveling abroad.
In company news, Blackberry reported quarterly earnings that outpaced market expectations, boosted in part by the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphone. Still, the company lost subscribers at a rapid pace, with the base of users contracting to 76 million from 79 million. (Read More: Is BlackBerry's Turnaround on Track?)
Goldman Sachs edged higher after Guggenheim started coverage of the banking giant with a "buy" rating and price target of $175. Meanwhile, the brokerage initiated coverage of Morgan Stanley with a "neutral" rating and a price target of $25.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Chicago PMI, natural gas inventories, 7-yr note auction, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Ebay analysts mtg, weekly rail numbers
FRIDAY: Good Friday—U.S. banks open/equity markets closed, personal income & outlays, consumer sentiment
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