Stocks: Europe, economy and earnings in focus

@CNNMoneyInvest April 17, 2012: 9:07 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNN Money) -- U.S. stocks were poised for a higher open Tuesday, as investors contend with worries about Europe, a bevy of U.S. economic data and the latest corporate results.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were about 0.6% higher. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Shares of Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), which have helped lift broader markets, will remain in focus after shedding nearly 9% over the past five days. Apple shares were up 0.5% in premarket trading.

Before the opening bell, banking giant Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) reported a quarterly profit of $2.1 billion on $9.95 billion in revenue. Goldman also boosted its quarterly dividend by 31% to 46 cents a share. But weak investment banking revenue continued to ding the firm, sending shares lower in pre market trading.

Worries about Europe eased slightly after the latest edition of an index based on German investor sentiment came in unexpectedly high. An auction of Spanish 12- and 18-month treasury bills also drew strong demand, said Markus Huber, a senior trader with TX Capital in the United Kingdom.

"It brings a bit of relief after the recent auctions have been rather worrying," he said.

However, investors remain nervous about Spain, where bond yields rose above 6% Monday -- the highest level in several months. The Spanish government, which will auction bonds later this week, has been struggling with rising borrowing costs amid fears that it may need to be bailed out.

Spanish 10-year yields eased to 5.89% on Tuesday morning. On Thursday, the country will hold a closely watched auction of 10-year bonds.

"Thursday's going to be the key -- the debt auction in Spain and how things will progress," Huber said.

U.S. stocks closed mixed Monday, with blue-chips gaining and tech shares falling.

World markets: European stocks were higher in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) added 0.7%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany rose 1.1% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) climbed 1.5%.

Asian markets ended lower. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) fell 0.9%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong shed 0.2% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) ended slightly lower.

In India, the central bank surprised observers on Tuesday by cutting interest rates by 0.5%, an attempt to ward off a slowdown in the world's second-most populous country.

Economy: Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department reported that March housing starts occurred at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000, below expectations and down from February's rate of 694,000.

March applications for building permits, an indication of future construction activity, came in at an annual rate of 747,000, ahead of expectations and up from February's rate of 715,000.

Companies: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) and Coca-Cola (COKE) also released their first-quarter results ahead of the opening bell.

Johnson & Johnson posted quarterly earnings of $1.37 a share excluding certain charges, slightly better than forecasts, sending shares up 0.6% in premarket trading.

Coca-Cola reported earnings of 89 cents a share, in line with expectations, on $11.1 billion in revenue. Shares rose 1.2%.

U.S. Bancorp (USB, Fortune 500) shares were up 0.7% after the financial firm reported earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

Shares of renewable energy firm First Solar (FSLR) climbed 6%, after the company announced it was reducing its global workforce by 30%.

Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK, Fortune 500) announced Monday that its oil field services unit plans to go public as a separate company.

After the close, investors will get the latest numbers from Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) and Intel (INTC, Fortune 500).

Yahoo is expected to announce earnings of 17 cents per share, while IBM is expected to post earnings of $2.65 per share.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the British pound, but gained against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Oil for May delivery rose 96 cents to $103.89 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose $1 to $1,649.70 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.00% from 1.97% late Monday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 2:31pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.01%4.03%
15 yr fixed3.12%2.97%
5/1 ARM3.11%2.99%
30 yr refi4.04%4.09%
15 yr refi3.15%3.05%
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