This morning, equity markets look to build on a massive 2.4% gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) yesterday. The gains were driven by indications from European policymakers that coordinated action, when needed, was likely to take place in a "firm and timely manner" to stem the effects of the continent's debt crisis. Investors were also encouraged by commentary from various Federal Reserve Bank presidents, with one suggesting that a need for additional monetary easing is "on the table," should weakness in Europe impact U.S. economic growth in a more meaningful way.
In overseas trading, Asian markets were mostly higher following news from China's central bank that they are lowering the country's benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points. While the Nikkei and Hang Seng traded higher, China's primary index, the Shanghai Composite, traded slightly lower on concerns over decelerating growth in the country. European markets are broadly higher this morning following the rate cut, with the FTSE 100 index up 1.5% in recent trading.
Let's take a look at how U.S. futures markets are moving as of about 8 a.m. EDT this morning.
Gain / Loss
Gain / Loss %
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||61||0.5%||12,480|
|S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC )||8||0.6%||1,323|
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
While U.S. markets appear headed higher, we'll have to wait for one of today's largest events to unfold before knowing its final direction. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be under the investor equivalent of an electron microscope when he addresses the Congressional Joint Economic Committee at 10 a.m. EDT this morning. His comments will be meticulously examined for any hints supporting or refuting the statements his Fed colleagues made yesterday. When Ben speaks, markets listen, so don't be surprised by any large swings in trading later this morning.
Moving away from the macro picture, let's take a look at some notable company-specific news making headlines.
Let the Map Wars Begin!
In company news, Google and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) are in the midst of the first battle in their cartographic war. In a pre-emptive strike of sorts, Google unveiled the rollout of 3-D images in its Google Earth software, with a Google Maps rollout soon to follow. This comes the week prior to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where it intends to introduce homegrown mapping software that will replace Google's wares in devices running Apple's newest operating system. The move comes as the two companies do battle for dominance in the mobile arena, with Google expected to claim about 60% of mobile devices through its Android operating system in 2012, compared to Apple at about 20% with its exclusive iOS platform. Despite the raging successes of its iPhone, research firm IDC released a report yesterday predicting that Apple would eventually cede the No. 2 spot to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Mobile platform, with Windows-based phones expected to exceed 19% market share by 2016. Given the fickle nature of technology and consumer preferences, I'll believe it when I see it, IDC.
Dude, where's my trade?
Nasdaq OMX Group CEO Robert Greifeld made news yesterday afternoon by offering an official apology for system malfunctions that contributed to a wealth of problems during the IPO of Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) on May 18. The apology came in conjunction with the exchange's plans to allocate $40 million to its clients, including various market makers and brokerage firms, to make up for various malfunctions that led to a 30-minute delay in initial trading, along with other problems that kept customers from making transactions and confirming that they took place. The apology and compensation don't help retail investors, though, who will have to go through their specific brokerage firms for any early trading claims related to the snafu.
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