Markets in Europe edged higher this morning after U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa beat earnings forecasts and China reported that inflation fell further than expected in March, boosting hopes that the Chinese government will continue its monetary-stimulus efforts. Among the biggest risers were mining shares, which helped lift the FTSE 100 by 0.47% by 7:20 a.m. EDT. In Europe, a new OECD report sounded a warning that Slovenia could soon follow Cyprus into bankruptcy if its banking sector is not recapitalized. In the U.K., new figures showed that exports fell by 2.8% in February, while industrial output rose by 1%. German exports also fell: Exports from Europe's biggest economy were down by 1.5% in February, while imports fell by 3.8%.
Today's U.S. economic reports include the NFIB small-business index for March, which fell from 90.8 in February to 89.5, slightly ahead of expectations of 89.2. At 10 a.m. EDT, wholesale inventories are expected to have risen by 0.6% in February after gaining 1.2% in January. February's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey is also due at 10 a.m. EDT.
Last night Alcoa reported first-quarter adjusted earnings of $0.11 per share on sales of $5.83 billion, beating analysts' expectations for adjusted earnings of $0.08 per share but missing the $5.88 billion consensus forecast for revenue. Alcoa is widely seen as a predictor for the wider market, and despite the revenue miss, these results have been seen as a 'beat' and raised hopes that corporate earnings will be stronger than expected across the S&P 500.
Other stocks that may be actively traded today include J.C. Penney. The retailer's shares were 8.66% lower in premarket trading this morning after the company announced last night that CEO Ron Johnson will leave the company after less than two years in the post to be replaced by his predecessor, Mike Ullman. J.C. Penney's stock price has halved since former Apple exec Johnson took control, and his turnaround plan is now widely seen as a failure that has alienated loyal customers without attracting new ones. Iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources was also higher in premarket trading following gains for commodity stocks in Europe.
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