International markets are to the upside, for the most part. The Shanghai Composite closed up 2.1 percent and is now at a 9 week high.
Greece announced plans for a new 5 billion euro seven-year bond that will yield about 6 percent; they need to borrow $16 billion by May to refinance maturing debt.
The dollar is falling for the second straight day as sovereign debt concerns wane in Europe. That is giving strength to commodities in early trade. Crude oil and the precious metals are posting modest gains, while copper is getting a 3 percent boost pushing that base metal near a 1.5 year high. (See gold and copper prices.)
As for stocks, despite widespread skepticism about the current rally, highlighted by this morning's article in the NYT ("Stocks Soar, But Many Analysts Ask Why"), breadth measures are still healthy.
1) Treasury announced that it is planning to fully dispose of the 7.7 billion shares of Citigroup stock it owns. Not affected are the trust preferred securities or warrants for Citi that the government continues to own.
No real details here, just that it will sell "through various means in a an orderly and measured fashion." There will be a pre-arranged plan, but did not say what that plan would be.
2) Ford announced the long-awaited sale of its Volvo brand to Chinese automaker Geely. The transaction gives Ford $1.8 billion — a far cry from the $6.5 billion it paid for Volvo in 1999 — and gives Geely the responsibility of turning around a global brand, which has largely unprofitable over the past few years. Following the deal, Ford will continue to supply various parts for Volvo vehicles.
3) Goldman Sachs says Wall Street is too bearish on the prospects for energy exploration and production; they are upgrading the group as they believe the rig count will fall, demand appears to be improving, and coal-to-gas substitution is likely to increase. They upgrade Southwestern Energy, up 5 percent pre-open.
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