Stocks are set to move higher at the opening, with the Dow heading straight for the 13,000 mark. European shares are higher, as the rising euro closes in on its all-time high against the dollar. Overnight, Asian stocks were lower, with Tokyo stocks falling on worries about the U.S. consumer after yesterday's weak housing data and consumer confidence number. Japanese automakers' shares were dented in the selling.
Royal Bank of Scotland and partners launched a cross European takeover battle for ABN Amro, offering more than $103 billion. The bid tops Barclays' offer and is contingent on ABN keeping the LaSalle unit it plans to sell to Bank of America . Our Melissa Lee will look at this deal today and how it might change the global banking landscape.
Earnings news will help guide direction today. Already this morning, Dow component Boeing beat estimates but was conservative in guidance which reversed an early stock rally. Pepsi earnings were up 16%, and Amazon.com's shares are on a tear after the company reported strong numbers after the bell yesterday. The stock was upgraded by Citigroup which put it at "hold," from "sell."
Homebuilders Pulte, Ryland and Beazer also report earnings today. Apple also reports after the bell today, and our Jim Goldman will be looking at those results plus the ramifications of former Apple CFO Fred Anderson's settlement with the SEC and statement that he had voiced misgivings to CEO Steve Jobs about options backdating.
The markets will also be watching key economic data today, particularly new home sales at 10 am New York time. Durable goods orders jumped 3.5% in March, well ahead of expectations. And the Fed's beige book is released at 2 pm and that should provide some new clues on the strength of the economy. Our Steve Liesman will be on "Street Signs" to interpret the news as it is reported.
Party Like It's 1999
The magic 13,000 level for the Dow might be a landmark for some, but our Bob Pisani says the big number traders are watching is 1,527 on the S&P 500.
"That's a big party. That's a big limit to go through. If we do it, it would blow off the last vestiges of the 2000 selloff," Pisani said.
Pisani says the market is marching higher despite some worrisome news. He points to yesterday's weak existing home sales, some earnings comments that show weakness in North America and GM's comment earlier this week that the subprime mortgage mess is hurting auto sales.
Pisani says Whirlpool is a good example of what is going on with U.S. multinationals' earnings. Whirlpool yesterday said the environment in North America is tough, but its profits rose on strong international appliance sales. Also look at Mexican cement maker Cemex . The company yesterday said in its earnings report that it is positive about most markets but cautious on the U.S. Another example came this morning in UPS earnings. The company said U.S. economic growth has been softer than expected but growth outside the U.S. has been rapid.
"You look outside the U.S., things are pretty good. You look inside the U.S., and it's slow. Most of the biggest stocks are global in nature. 48% of the sales of the S&P 500 are from outside the U.S. Dollar weakness has made profits repatriated from overseas a lot more valuable. When business overseas expands, U.S. corporations do very well even if it's weaker in the U.S. ... If the dollar was rallying or the global economy was any weaker, (stocks) would be way down right now."
The S&P is 47 points or 3.1% away from its March, 2000 record of 1527. Year-to-date, the index is up 4.4%. Yesterday, the Dow flirted with 13,000, coming within 11 points before backing down. The Dow closed up 34.54, at 12953, after hitting a new intraday high of 12,989. The Nasdaq was up 0.87 point, at 2524, about half way from the March, 2000 high of 5,048.
Bye, Bye BA
British Airways dealt a blow to the NYSE, saying it would delist and trade on the OTC in the U.S.