World stock markets are bouncing back after Wall Street's higher close Wednesday. Of course, those gains came after a somersault session that saw the Dow take a 200-plus-point round trip, after dipping below 12,000. Volatility is likely to stay as we head toward the expiration of options Friday. For now, futures point to a higher opening.
Japan's Nikkei closed 1.1% higher and Europe's major markets are all more than 1.5% higher this morning. The yen eased against the dollar overnight, helping sentiment in Asia. Oil is slightly firmer as OPEC meets in Vienna though it is not expected to announce any production changes.
Traders will be watching producer prices this morning for any signs of inflation. The Philly Fed survey and the Empire State manufacturing data are also due today.
Ringing Up a Loam
Wal-Mart seems to have found a way around objections to its plan to move into banking. Newspapers report today that Wal-Mart is pushing into financial services indirectly through the banks that operate in its stores. The big retailer is apparently negotiating lease deals with the banks which give it the right to offer mortgages, home equity lines and consumer loans. The Wall Street Journal says Wal-Mart's leases say it could offer these services in the checkout lane, among other parts of its stores. The House Financial Services Committee takes up hearings next week on a law aimed at blocking companies like Wal-Mart and Home Depot from operating banks.
Cadbury says it is reviewing options to separate its candy business from its beverage business, which includes Snapple. Nelson Peltz has a stake in the company and no doubt helped them come to the decision.
Bear Stearns, a big player in the mortgage securities market, reports earnings today. So far, Wall Street profit reports, from Goldman and Lehman this week, have shown no wear and tear from the subprime mortgage mess.