* US: Dow Futures: 13521.00 (0.16%), S&P 500 Futures: 1455.60 (0.19%), NASDAQ Futures: 2856.00 (0.21%)
* Europe: CAC: 3529.05 (0.46%), DAX: 7371.58 (0.32%), FTSE: 5876.32 (0.14%).
* Asia-Pacific: Australia: 4418.40 (0.54%), China: 2067.83 (0.40%), Hong Kong: 20841.91 (1.15%), India: 5600.05 (0.00%), Japan: 9232.21 (1.17%).
* Metals: Gold: 1769.10 (-0.12%), Silver: 34.41 (-0.89%), Copper: 3.80 (0.37%)
* Energy: Crude Oil: 94.84 (-0.47%), Natural Gas: 2.82 (1.51%)
* Commodities: Corn: 7.49 (-1.00%), Soya Bean: 16.65 (-1.74%), Wheat: 8.80 (-1.20%)
* Currency: EUR/USD: 1.3028 (-0.15%), GBP/USD: 1.6219 (-0.15%), USD/JPY: 78.5600 (-0.32%)
* 10 year US Treasury: 1.776% (-0.033)
Financial and Economic News Update
U.S. stock-index futures rise: U.S. stock-index futures are pointing to a higher on Wednesday after the Japanese central bank said it would step up bond buying to boost the economy. On the economic front, housing starts gained 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 units in August, according to data from the Commerce Department. Economists were expecting an annual rate of 765,000 units. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ were all trading modestly higher.
European markets in the green: European markets are up in trade today with the German DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) trading 0.3 percent higher at 7371.58, the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) was up 0.1 percent at 5876.32 and the CAC 40 (INDEXEURO:PX1) added 0.5 percent to 3529.05. The euro zone blue-chip ESTX 50 PR.EUR (INDEXSTOXX:SX5E) (Euro Stoxx 50) was trading 0.4 percent higher.
Asian markets end higher: Asian markets closed higher on Wednesday with Japan’s NIKKEI 225 (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) hitting a four-month closing high at 9232.21 points. The HANG SENG INDEX (INDEXHANGSENG:HIS) closed at 20,841.9 points, its highest since May 4, while the SSE Composite Index (SHA:000001) (Shanghai Composite Index) rose 0.4 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) index rose 24 points to 4,418.4, its highest close since May 3. The benchmark Indian 30-share BSE SENSITIVE (INDEXBOM:SENSEX) index was closed for a public holiday.
Company News Update
* Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and four major book publishers, CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS)’s Simon & Schuster, News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA)’s HarperCollins, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan and Lagardere SCA (EPA:MMB)’s Hachette Livre, have offered to let retailers such as Amazon.com. Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) sell digital books at a discount for two years to end a European Union antitrust investigation.
* General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) reported first quarter earnings excluding items of 66 cents per share, 4 cents above the average analysts’ estimate. Sales grew 5 percent to $4.05 billion, trailing estimates of $4.08 billion. The company reaffirmed its full-year outlook.
* AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE:AZO) posted fourth quarter profit of $323.7 million, or $8.46 a share, up from $301.5 million, or $7.18 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue for the quarter increased 4.6 percent to $2.76 billion. Analysts had forecast earnings of $8.40 a share on revenue of $2.8 billion.
* Private equity firm The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) has agreed buy home security provider Vivint Inc for over $2 billion.
* Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) said it has rejected the nominations of two potential board members by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada’s Aruze USA.
* DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV) is considering a bid for Vivendi SA (EPA:VIV)’s Brazilian broadband operator GVT, according to a Bloomberg report.
* Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA) reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.6 million or 1 cent per share, down from $28.2 million or 18 cents per share in the year-ago period. Sales rose 29 percent to $939.7 million from $725.8 million a year earlier.
* Carlyle Group LP (NASDAQ:CG) is close to acquiring a minority stake in Turkish swim-wear retailer, Penti, with a deal expected to close in early November, Reuters reported.
* Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) jumped 2 percent in early New York trading after Goldman Sachs raised its recommendation for the stock to “buy” from “neutral.”
* Canadian miner B2Gold Corp. (TSE:BTO) will buy Perth-based CGA Mining Ltd. (TSE:CGA) (ASX:CGX) in a deal valued at about 1.1 billion Canadian dollars. ($1.13 billion).
* Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) was up 1.7 percent in pre-market trading after it was added to the “Conviction Buy” list at Goldman Sachs.
* Goldman Sachs has downgraded discount broker, Charles Schwab Corp (NYSE:SCHW), to “neutral” from “buy.” The stock fell 1 percent.
* BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) (LON:BP) is up 0.8 percent in London trading after the Financial Times reported that the oil company was in talks to sell its Texas City refinery to Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC).
* Spanish fashion retailer Inditex SA (MCE:ITX) said first-half profit increased 32 percent amid strong growth in emerging markets. Sales grew 17 percent, while same store sales were up 7 percent from the same period last year.
* London-listed platinum miner Lonmin Plc (LON:LMI) gained 2.5 percent after it reached an agreement with its workers who had been striking over a pay dispute for the last six-weeks.
* Porsche Automobil Holding SE (ETR:PAH3) (FRA:PAH3) was up 7 percent after a German court dismissed investor lawsuits against the company that claimed the carmaker lied about its Volkswagen AG takeover plan in 2008.
* Online fashion retailer ASOS plc (LON:ASC) said sales rose 31 percent in the fourth quarter amid strong demand from customers on the U.S. The company said that it was well on track to achieve full-year profit forecast.
* Chipmaker ASML Holding N.V. (ADR) (NASDAQ:ASML) (AMS:ASML) fell 3 percent after South Korean newspaper, Kyunghyang Shinmun reported that Samsung Electronics Co. may cut back on investment in 2013.
* Fashion retailer French Connection Group (LON:FCCN) reported a first half loss before tax of 6.3 million pounds ($10.24 million), and said revenue for the period declined 7 percent to 96 million pounds.
* British technology company Smiths Group plc (LON:SMIN) said full-year profit rose 7 percent to 497 million pounds ($807.85 million) from 463 million pounds a year earlier. Revenue for the period grew 7 percent to 3.04 billion pounds.
* Mining giant BHP Billiton Limited (ADR) (NYSE:BHP) (ASX:BHP) (LON:BLT) said that it does not expect a repeat of the demand-supply imbalance that propelled iron ore prices to a record high last year.
* Japan Airlines barely ended above its public offering price on its re-listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Japan Airlines opened at 3,810 yen and ended the trading session at 3,830 yen, 1.1 percent above the initial public offering price of 3,790 yen per share.
* Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) will sell a smaller, slimmer and lighter version of its PlayStation 3 console this holiday season as it tries to woo back customers flocking to games played on iPhone and other smartphones.
* Australian department store chain David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS) fell 0.4 percent after reporting a 40 percent decline in full-year profit to 101.1 million Australian dollars ($105.6 million). Revenue for the period declined 5 percent to 1.87 billion Australian dollars.
* Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (TYO:7201) rebounded from losses made on Tuesday to end 3.7 percent higher after it said that production would resume at four plants in Guangzhou and Zhengzhou in China.
* Australian engineering-services company Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX:MAH) fell the most in more than three years after it warned that profit would fall as much as 64 percent this year, and announced the resignation of chief executive Nick Bowen.
* Fast Retailing Co Ltd (TYO:9983) jumped 3.3 percent, as it reopened most of its Uniqlo clothing stores in China, which had been closed due to anti-Japanese protests.
Economic Calendar for Wednesday, September 19, 2012:
07:00 A.M. ET: MBA Purchase Applications (Week ending Friday, September 14)
08:30 A.M. ET: Housing Starts (MoM) (August)
08:30 A.M. ET: Building Permits (MoM) (August)
09:45 A.M. ET: Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George speaks.
10:00 A.M. ET: Existing Home Sales (MoM) (August)
10:00 A.M. ET: Existing Home Sales Change (August)
10:30 A.M. ET: EIA Petroleum Status Report (Week ending Friday, September 14)
07:00 P.M. ET: Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher speaks.