1) Budget cuts are less painful than a bailout. That, according to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, saying Spain faced a situation of "extreme difficulty."
2) China up 1.7 percent! Well, it was off for a holiday yesterday, but word that China would allow more foreign investment in its capital markets has definitely spiked the markets. Let's face it: The Chinese could use more long-term boring global pension fund managers investing and less short-term local investors.
Ever been to a local Chinese brokerage office? I have, in Shanghai. It looked like an Off-Track Betting operation: Screens up everywhere, lots of locals scribbling on pieces of paper, and running up the cages to make bets. Substitute stock prices for horses, and you have...you get the point.
3) Retail reports not bad: Pier 1 Imports shares are unchanged pre-market after the home décor company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, boosted by a one-time tax benefit and comparable store sales increase of 10.3 percent due to more store traffic. Pier 1 Imports reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.04, versus analysts’ $0.48 estimate. The company expects 2013 earnings to be in the range of $1.06 and $1.12 per share, plus an additional $0.01 to $0.02 from a 53rd week included in 2013’s operating results. The Street is expecting full-year earnings per share of $1.12.
4) Bed Bath & Beyond: The retailer earned $1.48 per share for its fourth quarter, 15 cents above estimates. Overall sales were in line with consensus, but same-store sales beat forecasts despite profit margin pressures.
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