* US: Dow Futures: 12960.00 (-0.35%), S&P 500 Futures: 1387.20 (-0.43%), NASDAQ Futures: 2731.00 (-0.20%)
* Europe: CAC: 3299.59 (-0.42%), DAX: 6727.99 (-0.83%), FTSE: 5682.85 (-0.37%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4319.80 (-0.33%), China: 2302.24 (1.71%), Hong Kong: 20593.00 (-0.96%), India: 5322.90 (0.00%), Japan: 9767.61 (-0.53%).
* Metals: Gold: 1627.00 (0.80%), Silver: 31.34 (0.95%), Copper: 3.80 (-2.31%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 101.52 (0.05%), Natural Gas: 2.14 (-0.14%)
* Commodities: Corn: 6.55 (-0.53%), Soya Bean: 14.22 (0.39%), Wheat: 6.40 (-2.89%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3050 (-0.70%), GBP/USD: 1.5832 (-0.37%), USD/JPY: 82.100 (-0.38%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 2.170% (-0.053)
Market and Economy News Update
U.S. stock-index futures trading lower: Taking cues from global markets, U.S. markets are poised to open lower on Thursday, as worries about the European debt crisis resurfaced. The Dow and S&P 500 futures were trading close to half a percent lower.
U.S. Jobless claims fall to four year lows: The Labor Department reported today in Washington, claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly four years last week. Initial jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the lowest level since April 2008.
European markets slide: European markets hit a two-month low on Thursday amid rising fears over Spain’s economic outlook after a disappointing Spanish bond auction. The FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) were down 0.5 percent, while German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) was trading close to a percent lower.
Bank of England keeps interest unchanged: As widely expected, the Bank of England on Thursday left its key lending rate unchanged and also made no adjustments to its bond purchasing program, amid some signs of improvement in the British economy over the last two months.
U.K. manufacturing declines in February: The Office for National Statistics said today in London, factory output unexpectedly fell 1 percent from January, the most in almost a year. Economists were expecting an increase of 0.1 percent.
Asian markets decline: Most Asian markets ended lower on Thursday after a weak Spanish bond auction overnight, dent investor confidence. Japan’s NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) fell to a four-week low, closing down 0.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index (SHA:000001) broke through the key psychological level of 2300, ending 1.7 percent higher, while the HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HSI) was also down 1 percent, as investors booked some profits on the final trading day before a four-day holiday weekend. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index, which was down 1 percent at one point of time, regained losses and closed 0.3 percent lower.
Company News Update
* Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) jumped 4.3 percent in pre-market trading after the company reported a better than expected 32 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.
* Limited Brands, Inc., (NYSE: LTD) said its same-store sales for the five weeks ended March 31 rose 8 percent, much better than the consensus forecast of 4.4 percent. The stock was trading flat in morning trade.
* Internet radio pioneer, Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) has entered into an agreement with Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (TYO:7201) to allow for in-car streaming in the Japanese auto company’s 2013 Altima.
* Home-furnishings retailer, Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (NYSE:PIR), reported earnings per share of 48 cents and also declared a four-cent quarterly dividend.
* Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPPI) fell 10 percent on news that it agreed to be acquired by Allos Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALTH) in a deal worth up to $206 million. Allos was trading 27 percent higher. Spectrum also revealed its anti-cancer drug apziquone, disappointed in Phase III clinical trials.
* PriceSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSMT), the owner of warehouse-shopping clubs, reported second-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, against analysts’ average estimate of 1 cent.
* British investment manager, Ashmore Group plc (LON:ASHM) jumped 3.6 percent in London trading after UBS upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral”, saying the company had significant growth visibility.
* Halfords Group plc (LON:HFD), the seller of car part, slumped 3 percent after forecasting a 4 percent rise in underlying costs in 2013.
* Veterinary pharmaceutical company, Dechra Pharmaceuticals plc (LON:DPH) climbed 7.8 percent after it agreed to buy Eurovet Animal Health BV for 135 million euros ($177.6 million) in cash. Dechra is planning a rights issue to fund the acquisition.
* Veolia Environnement Ve SA (EPA:VIE) (NYSE:VE) fell 3 percent after the world’s largest water utility was downgraded to “sell” from “hold” at Deutsche Bank AG.
* German drug major, Merck KGaA (FRA:MRK) slid 1.2 percent after Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “outperform”.
* The Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TYO:9501) gained 2.9 percent after news reports suggested the government is looking at buying a majority stake in the owner of the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.
* Showa Denko K.K. (TYO:4004) was the biggest gainer in the Nikkei 225, rising 3.8 percent, following a report in the Nikkei newspaper that it will supply hard disks to Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ:STX).
* According to news reports, Toshiba Corporation (TYO:6502) may join hands with South Korea’s SK Hynix to bid for Japanese memory chip maker, Elpida Memory. Toshiba rose 1.7 percent in Tokyo.
* Large Chinese banks were weak in Hong Kong trading, with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (HKG:1398), the mainland’s biggest lender, closing 1.6 percent lower, and Bank of Communications Co., Ltd. (HKG:3328) down 3.2 percent. Bank of China (HKG:3988) ended the day down 1.6 percent, while Agricultural Bank of China Limited (HKG:1288) lost 2.6 percent.
* Chinese mainland developers gained in Hong Kong. Soho China Ltd (HKG:0410) jumped 2.7 percent and China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. (HKG:0688) gained 0.8 percent. Agile Property Holdings Limited (HKG:3383) rallied 2 percent to close at HK$9.86.
* BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) (NYSE:BHP) fell 0.9 percent, and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) (NYSE:RIO) lost 1.7 percent in Sydney, after the price of copper fell more than 3 percent on Wednesday.
Economic Calendar for Thursday, April 5, 2012:
08:30 A.M. ET: Initial Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, March 31, 2012)
08:30 A.M. ET: Continuing Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, March 24, 2012)
09:10 A.M. ET: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks
09:45 A.M. ET: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Week ending Sun, March 25)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Natural Gas Report (Week ending Friday, March 30, 2012)
03:00 P.M. ET: Treasury STRIPS (March)
04:30 P.M. ET: Fed Balance Sheet
04:30 P.M. ET: Money Supply