Better News Keeps the Rally Going
Somebody must have hit the wrong button. At one point in the pre-open, the futures were down 2 points. This can't happen. Stocks only go up, right?
Outside the U.S., better news on the global economy is keeping the rally going. China's trade surplus was better than expected, with both exports and imports stronger than expected (though accuracy of the numbers is being debated).
Rio Tinto said steel demand for China is stronger than anyone thinks. Demand for steel is expected rise at a 3 percent rate for the next decade, it said. The company expects iron ore sales to rise to a record. One major factor helping Rio: It is "well-positioned on the cost curve," according to Alan Smith, president of Rio Tinto Iron Ore Asia.
German industrial production comes in better than expected.
Greek stocks are soaring, up nearly 6 percent to a 52-week high. Greece was closed Monday and Tuesday, but a Monday article in The Wall Street Journal noted that the International Monetary Fund's latest review of Greek debt highlighted the need for euro-area governments to start forgiving some of the debt.
Copper rally continues, up 2.5 percent today, 9.4 percent this month.
1) It's all about yield, even for real estate. Starwood Property Trust, which reported earnings slightly below expectations, raised its dividend to $0.46 (a 6.6 percent dividend yield!) and made it clear why the stock is near a new high: "We continue to supplement our dedicated management team's efforts with Starwood Capital Group's global enterprise to source and close real estate investments that remain compelling from a risk reward standpoint in a yield-starved world." (Emphasis mine.)
2) Some consumers may be trading down to lower-priced chicken over beef (as Tyson noted Monday), but there's another consumer segment that is going the other way, trading up. Whole Foods reported earnings above expectations, noting that 7 million customers go to their stores each week, and closing with this line: "We believe we will continue to gain market share as we accelerate our new store openings."
4) Pleased to see that Toyota Motors reported strong earnings, largely because exports were strong on the weaker yen. Here's what I don't see: Signs that this effort is actually translating into higher wages, or more jobs. No sign of that. This, despite the fact that it is expected to sell some 230,000 more cars this year, to 9.1 million vehicles. All this money printing had better translate into more jobs and higher wages, not just more corporate profits, or Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan will be in a very difficult position.
5) J.C. Penney is trading up despite providing downbeat guidance. Cash levels are higher than expected. This is now a turnaround story. It has secured financing, and the hope is that a return to discounting will bring back the customers.
6) Healthy jump in mortgage applications, up 7 percent vs. just 1.8 percent last week.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani