U.S. markets were poised for a higher open following the Easter break, with results Monday from Netflix and Kimberly-Clark and an anticipated initial public offering prospectus from Chinese online giant Alibaba sometime this week all in focus.
Stock futures held on to mild gains after Japan reported a sharp fall-off in export growth and tensions continued to simmer in the Ukraine. Japan's exports rose 1.8 percent in March from a year earlier, well below analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a rise of 6.3 percent.
Meanwhile, investors will keep a watchful eye on Ukraine after at least three people were killed in a gunfight on Sunday near a city controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The deaths put in jeopardy a deal agreed in Geneva last Thursday between the governments of Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia.
The price of oil dipped slightly on Monday with Brent futures heading toward $109 a barrel as investors took profits after steep gains. However, the fall was limited by the Ukrainian uncertainty. On the foreign exchange markets, meanwhile, the dollar rose slightly against the euro, up 0.07 percent to $1.38, and the yen, up 0.14 percent to 102.53 yen.
Companies announcing quarterly results today include Haliburton, Kimberly-Clark and Hasbro scheduled for this morning and Netflix among those in the diary to announce after trading ends in Wall Street. Kimberly-Clark is forecast to report earnings per share between $1.42 and $1.53, according to analysts polled by Reuters, while Netflix's figures are around the $0.65 mark.
Recent estimates value Alibaba between $153 billion and $200 billion and indicate that the IPO could raise up to $15 billion.
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