Early buying interest is putting a firm foundation under stocks so far this morning. European stocks are moving up on earnings news, and Japan ended higher, comforted by comments that the Bank of Japan will move slowly with any further rate increases.
Around the World
Standard and Poor's says the surprise resignation of Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi will have no impact on Italy's sovereign debt. Prodi, the head of Italy's 61st government since World War II, made the unpopular mistake of suggesting higher taxes would be the way to fight the budget deficit.
Some earnings news is out this morning, including Toll Brothers which reported a 67% decline in first quarter net. Google is taking aim at Microsoft with a new bunch of services for business, including web-based word processing and spreadsheet applications. Apple shares are higher after it and Cisco settled their differences over the iPhone name.
Our Phil Lebeau reports this morning that Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is trying to calm the troops inside the company as parent DaimlerChrysler studies the fate of the U.S. division.
We Know What Glitters
Yesterday, it was precious metals. Gold is a bit weaker this morning. but yesterday it rose 3.5% and silver jumped 3.2%. Copper was up nearly 3% in a mini metals rally. Our Rick Santelli says commodities markets are once again the playground of hedge funds as the dollar weakens.
"I think some of the funds that have done well are not going to put all their money in the equities basket," says Santelli.
Miller Tabak's Tony Crescenzi has this to say about the move in commodities: "For his part, (Fed Chairman) Bernanke has fed a new leg-up in asset prices. I noted a week ago that Bernanke had essentially eased monetary policy by spurring a loosening of financial conditions via higher stock prices, lower bond yields, tighter credit spreads, and a weakening of the U.S. dollar. This has facilitated a rally in commodity prices." We'll be watching these markets today.
Oil is slightly lower but is just under the $60 a barrel mark, ahead of inventory data to be released at 10:30 am New York time today. Here's an interesting fact from our friends at Dow Jones. In a story yesterday, the news agency reported that US oil imports form Africa were greater than those from the Middles East in 2006, for the first time in 21 years, according to government data. The trend is expected to continue. As recently as 2001, the story said, the U.S. imports from the Middle East were 10% higher than Africa.