* US: Dow Futures: 13238.00 (0.26%), S&P 500 Futures: 1400.50 (0.20%), NASDAQ Futures: 2738.00 (0.38%)
* Europe: CAC: 3245.62 (0.59%), DAX: 6740.74 (0.44%), FTSE: 5786.59 (0.49%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4429.00 (-0.16%), China: 2440.08 (0.07%), Hong Kong: 21249.53 (-0.28%), India: 5188.40 (-0.89%), Japan: 9380.25 (0.00%).
* Metals: Gold: 1641.60 (-0.75%), Silver: 30.40 (-0.78%), Copper: 3.76 (-0.58%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 105.01 (-0.20%), Natural Gas: 2.30 (2.17%)
* Commodities: Corn: 6.12 (-2.67%), Soya Bean: 13.66 (-1.80%), Wheat: 6.17 (-4.52%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3173 (0.11%), GBP/USD: 1.6192 (-0.05%), USD/JPY: 80.5300 (0.49%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.944% (0.016)
Financial and Economic News Update
U.S. stock-index futures trading higher: U.S. stock index futures are pointing to a higher open on Thursday, buoyed by a better than expected jobless claims report. First-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 27,000 to a one month low of 365,000 in the week ended April 28. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ futures were all trading around 0.3 percent higher.
European markets gain: European markets are trading higher, as the European Central Bank left interest rates on hold. The German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) was 0.44 percent higher at 6740.74, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) was up 0.5 percent at 5786.59, and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) was up 0.6 percent to 3245.62. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was trading 0.53 percent higher.
Asian markets end lower: Asian markets closed lower on Thursday after disappointing data from Europe and the U.S. revived concerns about the strength of global growth. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HSI) ended down 0.3 percent at 21249.53, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index), gained 0.1 percent to finish at 2440.08. The NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) was closed for trading, while the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index fell 0.2 percent, to 1995.11. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index fell 0.81 percent to 17,162.58 points.
Company News Update
* General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), the world’s largest automaker, reported first quarter profit excluding some items of 93 cents per share, which beat the 85 cents per share that analysts were expecting. Revenue rose to $37.8 billion, better than $37.5 billion average analyst estimate.
* Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) posted fiscal second quarter earnings that exceeded street estimates, helped by an increase in revenue from its cable networks.
* Health insurer Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI) reported a lower than expected first-quarter profit, due in part to the costs related to the acquisition of fellow insurer HealthSpring Inc (NYSE:HS).
* Packaged food maker Sara Lee Corp. (NYSE:SLE) reported a third quarter loss of $2 million, compared to a profit of $156 million a year ago.
* Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM), the largest U.S. natural goods grocer recorded second quarter profit of $117.7 million, or 64 cents a share that topped analysts’ estimates.
* Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) reported second quarter revenue that missed estimates and lowered its full year sales outlook.
* Real estate website Zillow Inc (NASDAQ:Z) forecast second-quarter revenue that surpassed the average analyst estimate. The company also announced it would acquire San Francisco-based RentJuice Corporation for $40 million in cash.
* Weight management specialist Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE:WTW) posted a first quarter profit of 74 cents a share, missing the average analyst estimate of 78 cents a share.
* Dutch life-sciences company Royal DSM NV has agreed to acquire U.S. medical device-maker Kensey Nash Corporation (NASDAQ:KNSY) for $360 million.
* German auto maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (FRA:BMW) reported first quarter profit that beat analyst expectations, due to strong demand from Asia and surge in sales of sport utility vehicles.
* Deutsche Lufthansa AG (FRA:LHA), Germany’s biggest airline, will slash 3500 administrative jobs worldwide, as it steps up efforts to improve profitability.
* Diageo plc (LON:DGE) (NYSE:DEO), the world’s biggest distiller, posted a forecast beating 6 percent increase in third quarter revenue, as robust sales in emerging markets offset declines in Europe.
* France Telecom SA (EPA:FTE) (NYSE:FTE), the country’s largest phone company, said first quarter revenue and operating margins deteriorated, largely because of stiff competition from a new ultra-low-cost mobile operator.
* Infineon Technologies AG (FRA:IFXA), Europe’s second-largest semiconductor maker, reported fiscal second quarter profit that topped analyst estimates, and raised its full-year sales outlook.
* German retailer Metro AG (FRA:MEO) reported a wider than expected first quarter loss, but the Dusseldorf-based company reaffirmed its full year sales guidance.
* Societe Generale SA (EPA:GLE), France’s second- largest bank, said first quarter net profit dropped to 732 million euros ($962 million) from 916 million euros a year earlier, but was well above analyst forecasts of 587 million euros.
* AirAsia, the region’s biggest discount carrier, and Malaysian Airline System (MAS) have terminated a proposed share swap deal amid resistance from employee unions at MAS, but will continue plans to cooperate in areas including maintenance and procurement.
* ASX Ltd. (ASX:ASX), operator of Australia’s main stock exchange, reported a 2.9 percent decline in net profit for the first nine months of the fiscal year due to subdued activity in equity markets.
* China’s state-owned Bright Food Group Co. has agreed to acquire a 60 percent stake in British breakfast cereal maker Weetabix Ltd.
* Australia’s largest electrical goods retailer Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) reported a 25 percent decline in pre-tax profit for the first nine months of the financial year as aggressive price competition hit profitability.
* Less than a month after investing in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (HKG:1398), Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings cut its stakes in two other rival Chinese banks, China Construction Bank Corporation (HKG:0939) and Bank of China (HKG:3988), by selling shares worth $2.48 billion.
* According to local media reports, South Korean prosecutors last week raided the headquarters of LG Display Co Ltd. (ADR) NYSE:LPL) in central Seoul to probe whether the company illegally obtained organic light-emitting-diode technologies from Samsung Mobile Display Co.
* Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) (NYSE:WBK), Australia’s second-biggest bank, posted a 25 percent slump in net profit to 2.97 billion Australian dollars (US$3.07 billion) for the first half of fiscal 2012, after last year’s result was boosted by a one-off tax consolidation.
Economic Calendar for Thursday, May 03, 2012:
08:30 A.M. ET: Initial Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, April 28, 2012)
07:30 A.M. ET: Continuing Jobless Claims (Week ending Saturday, April 21, 2012)
08:30 A.M. ET: Nonfarm Productivity (Q1) Preliminary
08:30 A.M. ET: Unit Labor Costs (Q1) Preliminary
09:45 A.M. ET: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Week ending Sunday, April 29)
10:00 A.M. ET: ISM Non-Mfg Index (April)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Natural Gas Report (Week ending Friday, April 27, 2012)
11:00 A.M. ET: Federal Reserve Bank Presidents speak.
04:30 P.M. ET: Fed Balance Sheet
04:30 P.M. ET: Money Supply