At 8:30 a.m., before markets open, the Labor Department will report February's consumer price index. Economists forecast a 0.3% increase compared to a 0.2% increase in January. Ex-food and and energy, core CPI is expected to rise 0.2% after gaining 0.3% in the previous month. Investors will be watching this inflationary measure closely as the Fed meets to discuss interest rate policy next week. What's more, yesterday's PPI surprise is causing further concerns inflationary pressures are sill strong.
Despite PPI coming much higher than expected yesterday and other indication about mounting inflation (at the wholesale level) and slower economic growth, markets finished on a positive note. The reason, many speculate, has to do with several options and futures contracts expiring today bringing buyers into the market. Corporate M&A activity also helped strengthened stocks yesterday.
Other economic data will be reported today: February capacity utilization and industrial production figures will be released just before markets open. March consumer confidence is due at 10:00 a.m., after the open, and is expected to show a slight drop.
The dollar dropped to a three-months low against the euro ahead of the coming U.S. economic data that could further point to weakening U.S. economy. The dollar also lost ground against the yen and 12 other currencies.
After falling to near $57 a barrel, oil prices rose this morning.
In corporate news:
OMI Corp. (NYSE:OMN), operator of a fleet of oil tankers, may put itself up for sale. The company hired advisers to explore sale and its board is reviewing several strategic alternatives.
Nissan Motor Co. (NASDAQ:NSANY) CEO Carlos Ghosn would give up the duty of overseeing operations in the Americas. The automaker shuffles top management as it heads for its first annual profit decline in seven years.
Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. (NASDAQ:LEND) said it would sell $2.7 billion of its loan inventory. LEND shares are down 6% in pre-market trading.
A Goldman Sachs reiterated his Neutral rating for Gannet Co. (NYSE:GCI) after the company reported yesterday.