World markets rally, U.S. investors hit pause

@CNNMoneyInvest March 14, 2012: 8:17 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- World markets rallied Wednesday, a day after the Fed offered an upbeat outlook on the U.S. economy, and most U.S. banks passed stress tests conducted by the central bank.

But U.S. investors weren't as enthralled.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were little changed ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

U.S. trade will be in focus on Wednesday, with data due on import and export prices and on the current account deficit.

Trade tensions with China were in the spotlight Tuesday, as President Obama announced that the United States, Japan and Western European countries would file a trade complaint against China over export restrictions on rare earth minerals.

March Stock Mania

U.S. stocks rallied late Tuesday to close sharply higher on news that most of the nation's largest banks have passed the government's latest test of their financial health.

But the Federal Reserve said Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Metlife (MET, Fortune 500), SunTrust (STI, Fortune 500) and Ally Financial would likely need new capital from either investors or the government in an adverse economic scenario.

In premarket trading Wednesday, Citi shares were down more than 3%. Meanwhile, some firms that passed got a boost. Shares of Regions Financial (RF, Fortune 500) were up almost 4%.

Earlier in the day, the Fed offered a relatively upbeat assessment of the economy in a statement from its key policymaking committee.

Economy: The U.S. current account deficit for the fourth quarter is expected to stand at $113.8 billion, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.

A report on crude inventories will be released after the opening bell.

World markets: European stocks were higher in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) ticked up 0.4%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany added 1.2% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 0.9%.

Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei (N225) rose 1.5%, closing above 10,000 for the first time in seven months.

U.S. vs. China: The trade battles

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) declined 2.6% and the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong shed 0.2% after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China will not ease its housing industry curbs.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar weakened against the euro, and the British pound, but rose versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery slipped 18 cents to $106.53 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $36.60 to $1,657.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.19% from 2.11% late Tuesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,094.43 7.80 0.05%
Nasdaq 4,477.53 3.83 0.09%
S&P 500 1,989.57 2.56 0.13%
Treasuries 2.51 0.05 1.91%
Data as of 12:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 76.33 5.04 7.07%
Ford Motor Co 17.83 0.05 0.28%
Yahoo! Inc 35.99 1.28 3.69%
AT&T Inc 35.61 -0.27 -0.75%
Apple Inc 96.88 -0.31 -0.32%
Data as of 12:39pm ET
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.27%4.22%
15 yr fixed3.27%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.35%3.48%
30 yr refi4.23%4.20%
15 yr refi3.25%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
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