GLOBAL STOCKS: U.S. stocks are flat to higher ahead of the opening as investors watch for interest rate news from Europe. Stocks cooled off Wednesday--after a two-day climb earlier this week nudged the Dow back to striking distance of its all time high. Tokyo stocks rose overnight. European stocks are higher-helped by a takeover approach for Gallaher Group. And oil is firmer this morning.
The Euro is moving up towards its 20 month high against the dollar ahead of the European Central Bank's rate decision this morning. The ECB is widely expected to hike rates to 3.5 percent. The yen also moved up on comments from the Bank of Japan.
ANOTHER DOSE OF DRUG NEWS: Eli Lilly today reaffirmed it expects its 2006 earnings to rise 8 percent to 12 percent, but projected disappointing profit growth for 2007 even though its revenues will grow at a faster pace next year. This follows Merck's issue yesterday of guidance for 2007 that could fall below analyst's targets. Our Mike Huckman is covering.
DEALS TODAY: News Corp is near a deal to buy out Liberty Media's $11 billion stake in the company in exchange for DirecTV and other assets.