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Markets Ride Weaker Dollar, Calmer Europe

Stock futures were up on a weaker dollar and a calmer Europe: Trichet has made vague comments about the need to expand the European Central Bank's role in the crisis, and proposals are flying about issuing joint bonds for the entire euronation. Also helping: continuing strength in China, where manufacturing activity hit a 7-month high. British manufacturing activity also showed strength. (Market Update: Stocks Hold Gains After Manufacturing News)

European banks, which were all down 2 to 4 percent yesterday, pre-open, were all UP 2 to 4 percent pre-open today.

Beaten-up Spanish stocks like Repsol and Telefonica are up about 4 percent pre-open.

Better economic news continues in the U.S. as well. The ADP report on job creation was stronger than expected, at 93,000 vs. 58,000 expected...October was also revised higher, to 82,000 from 43,000.

Bulls are also looking for the November ISM numbers this morning to be a bit above consensus of 56.5...anything near 60 would be the highest levels since May of this year.

Elsewhere:

1) It's the start of the month, and stocks are up…sound familiar? It should. In fact, in every month but two this year (June & July) the markets have been up on the first trading day of the month. That's included strong triple-digit gains in 5 of the first 11 months of 2010 (including two 200+ point gains most recently in August and September).

Unfortunately, while traders have liked the first day of the month, the momentum hasn't necessarily carried through to the end of the month. Despite the strong starts, the markets actually ended with monthly declines in 4 of the 9 months this year that they were up on the first day of the month.

2) American Expressrises 2 percent after JPMorgan started the financial firm at overweight. The optimism on Amex stems from the expectation that its spend-driven model will outperform credit-driven models as consumers spend more and borrow less in the current environment.

3) With mortgage rates hovering at their highest levels since mid-August (30-year fixed rate now at 4.56 percent), the Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 16.5 percent drop in mortgage applications last week, led by a sharp 21.6 percent decline in refinancing applications. Mortgage applications for home purchases, however, edged 1.1 percent higher.

4) At noon today, the Fed will release details about the emergency loans it provided to banks during the financials crisis...the Fed will be dumping large amounts of raw data, so expect a few headlines as reporters comb through the data. Everyone wants to know who had their hands out.

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