Wall Street Set To Pause As Focus Shifts To Economy

Washington (Mar 31)  Trading in the major US index futures suggests that  Wall Street  stocks may open Tuesday's session lower after advancing in the previous two sessions. After Asian stocks, with the exception of  Japan  and  China  ended on an upbeat note, the European markets are seeing mixed sentiment. Commodity prices are lower, as the dollar remains firm ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls data. The mood in the domestic markets may also hinge on economic data on consumer confidence and regional business activity, while the developments on the Greek debt crisis may also impact trading.

At  6:15 am ET  , the Dow futures are declining 80 points, the S&P 500 futures are moving down 10.50 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures are down 21.25 points.

US stocks extended their gains on Monday, encouraged by hopes of easy rate policy and M&A news flow.

On the economic front,  Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank  President  Esther George  is scheduled to speak in  New York  . At  9 am ET  ,  Richmond Federal Reserve Bank  President  Jeffrey Lacker  is due to speak on the economic outlook in  Richmond  .  Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank  President  Loretta Mester  will moderate a panel on the future of banks at the Atlanta Fed conference in  Stone Mountain, Georgia  , also at  9 am ET  .

S&P/Case-Shiller is due to release its house price index for January at  9 am ET  . The 20-city house price index is expected to rise 0.7% month-over-month on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to a 0.9% increase in December. Annually, house prices may have risen an unadjusted 4.6%.

MNI Indicators is due to release the results of its  Chicago  region manufacturing survey for March. The business barometer for the survey is expected to increase to 50.2 from 45.8 in February.

Also at  10 am ET  , the Conference Board is set to release its consumer confidence index for March. The consensus estimate calls for a small drop in the index to 95.5 from 96.4 in February. In corporate news,  Actavis'  (ACT) subsidiary Actavis Australia and Amneal Pharma announced a deal under which the latter will acquire substantially all of the former's in-country generic pharma business. The companies did not reveal the financial terms of the deal.

 Agilent Technologies  (A) and  Rigaku  announced an agreement for Japanese scientific instrumentation company  Rigaku  to acquire  Agilent's  X-ray diffraction business. The deal is expected to be final  May 1st, 2015  .

The major Asian markets closed mixed, with the Japanese and Chinese markets retreating strongly, while most other major markets in the region advanced. Optimism over stimulatory support for  China  and the positive close on  Wall Street  overnight set in motion a wave of buying in most markets. Expectations that the Reserve Bank of  Australia  will cut rates when it meets next week also encouraged traders to pick up stocks.

 Australia's  All Ordinaries closed 45.60 points or 0.78% higher at 5,862.  Hong Kong's   Hang Seng Index  ended at 24,901, up 45.77 points or 0.18%, while  China's  Shanghai Composite Index closed 38.67 points or 1.02% lower at 3,748.

The Japanese market retreated despite the yen remaining depressed. After trading above the unchanged line until the mid-session, the  Nikkei  225 average retreated in late afternoon trading before ending down 204.41 points or 1.05% at 19,207.

On the economic front, Data released by the  Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism  showed that housing starts fell 3.1% year-over-year in February, smaller than the 13% decline in January.

European stocks opened mostly lower and saw some volatility in early trading after yesterday's solid advance. The major indexes are now trading on a mixed note. The debt crisis in  Greece  is still in a limbo, as the nation scrambles to secure financing ahead of the  April 20th  deadline.

In corporate news,  Royal Philips Electronics  (PHG) announced a deal to sell 80.1% stake in its lighting division to  Go Scale Capital  for  USD2.8 billion  .  UK's  Kingfisher reported a decline in its full year profits and also announced plans to close 60 underperforming B&Q stores.  UK  travel company  Thomas Cook  said in its pre-close update that it is confident of meeting its full year expectations, as its European operations showed improvement.

On the economic front, a report released by the  GfK Institute  showed that consumer confidence in the  UK  rose to a 12 -year high in March, with the corresponding index rising to 4 from 1 in February.

German retail sales rose 3.6% year-over-year in February, slower than the 5% jump in January, a report released by the German Federal Statistical Office showed. Economists expected a 3.4% increase. A separate report showed that the jobless rate in  Germany  came in at 4.8% in February, unchanged from the previous month. Meanwhile, the  German Federal Labor Agency  reported that jobless rate in German came in at 6.4% in March compared to the 6.5% rate expected by economists.

Revised estimates released by the  UK Office for National Statistics  showed that  UK  fourth quarter GDP rose at an upwardly revised sequential rate of 0.6% and the year-over-year growth rate was also revised to 3% from 2.7%. Flash estimate released by Eurostat showed that euro area's annual consumer price inflation remained negative for the fourth straight month in March, while the jobless rate eased 0.1 percentage points to 11.3%.

Source: AllianceNews