Stocks look set to move higher at the opening, with the Dow catching some strength from Citigroup's restructuring moves and Alcoa's better-than-expected earnings report. European stocks are riding higher for a sixth day, and Tokyo was flat but other Asian markets were higher overnight.
U.S. stocks barely budged Tuesday, but those slight gains were a landmark for the Dow, which scored an eight-day winning streak for the first time in four years. If the 30 stock average can eke out another win today, the Dow will have logged its longest period of daily gains since November, 1996. Birinyi Associates reports that the Dow has had 64 such eight-day winning streaks since 1900, and 42% of the time it was higher for a ninth day.
When we talk about our Larry Kudlow, everyone remembers that he told us the stock market's fairly bullish stretch has been the greatest story never told. He was right. (despite some turbulence along the way). Well, we're listening again. Kudlow says he now sees some flashing signs that are giving him pause.
"Market indicators including bond spreads, gold, metals and the dollar are pointing towards higher inflation, which is a negative for stocks."
"It's gotten my attention in a big way," he says. Ours too.
The long-anticipated restructuring at Citi is finally unveiled. Citi is eliminating 17,000 jobs globally as part of its restructuring. Our Erin Burnett reports that another 9,500 jobs will be moved to lower-cost locations. She spoke this morning with Chief Operating Officer Robert Druskin. Citigroup has been under pressure to streamline costs and get its stock moving again. We'll hear more of Burnett's interview with Druskin, and also look today at whether the moves are the right ones to satisfy investors and keep the global banking giant competitive. Also, the company formerly known as Citigroup shaved several letters off its name plate and now goes by the leaner title of Citi.
When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks, we always watch. So we'll be tuned into CNBC.com's video window at 1 pm New York time when Bernanke speaks in New York City on market discipline and regulation. It should be interesting, but probably not exciting. Bernanke, though, will be taking questions from the audience and we, and the market, hope he gets some that will shed light on the economy and of course, inflation.
What we really think might be the most important Fed moment of the day will be at 2 pm when the FOMC's March meeting minutes are released. Our Steve Liesman says the minutes should enlighten us on the issue of the Fed's bias change, and one also presumes it will show its resolve to keep on fighting inflation.
Driving a Deal
The Wall Street Journal reports today that DaimlerChrysler official Rudger Grube plans to meet this week with bidders for Chrysler, but it appears Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda was not invited. Apparently Daimler and its bankers question whether Tracinda's condition-laden bid is competitive with the other proposals it is considering. Our Phil Lebeau will have more on the story today.
Also in deal news, Nasdaq may be eyeing a deal with the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, a move that would give it a foothold in the options business, says the Wall Street Journal.
When the U.S. said it would take some cases to the World Trade Organization over piracy and copyright protection, China did not take it well. China's commerce ministry issued a statement saying the move would "seriously damage" bilateral cooperation and harm business ties, according to the Financial Times.