Stocks are geared up to open higher this morning after yesterday's sluggish activity. Auto sales and pending home sales data are features today.
U.S. auto makers are expected to report monthly sales results for March. "If there's one thing to watch, it's going to be pickup sales because they are so closely tied to housing," says our Phil Lebeau, who is covering the story today.
March sales "will be ok. Not spectacular. Not horrible. The big three are going to be weak again because they are pulling back from selling large quantities of cars to the rental fleets. The Japanese car makers should all be up single digits. The high is going to be Toyota. The low is going to be Nissan," says Lebeau.
WARNING SIGNS CNBC's Senior Economics Correspondent Steve Liesman is taking a look today at the pullback by corporations in capital spending and what it might mean for the economy.
Liesman points out that Merrill Lynch today shaved its first quarter GDP number to 1.8 from 2.2% growth. This follows JP Morgan's cut Friday for the first-quarter to 1.5%. For Wall Street watchers, "The fact that JP Morgan beat Merrill to the bottom is fascinating. They've been bullish for a long time," he says. And of course, "Merrill blamed weaker capital spending among other things," says Liesman.
OIL DIP A slide in oil prices could help sentiment today. Crude is recovering some ground but fell more than a dollar earlier on expectations Iran and Britain will come to a diplomatic resolution for the release of the 15 British sailors. Our Rebecca Jarvis, from her perch at the NYMEX, will be watching with oil traders later this morning when we get an update on the hurricane season. Colorado State's Dr. William Gray releases an update to the 2007 forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season at 10 a.m.
GOOGLEGoogle announced its first major deal to enter the television advertising business with U.S. satellite TV operator EchoStar . Goldman, Sachs, meanwhile, recommends purchase of Google today, saying its analysis supports its expectations for 55% 2007 revenue growth. Goldman has a target of $620 on Google.
MIGHTY EUROPE The Financial Times today leads with a story on how European stock markets have surpassed the U.S. in value for the first time since before World War I. The rising euro has helped take the 24 European to a market cap of $15,720 billion as of the end of last week. The U.S. market value was $15,640 billion, according to Thomson Financial Data cited in the article. In the not too distant past, there would not have been east European markets to include in that mix. We'll have to look more at this and decide what message there is, if any. One might read this as a sign that it's time to put more money to work in the cheaper U.S. stock market.