Stock futures crept higher for a second day ahead of Tuesday’s open, despite a weak reading on New York region manufacturing and rising tension in Ukraine.
Dow futures were 23.8 points above fair market value and rising. Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 11.4 points and S&P 500 futures tacked on 3.5 points.
The stock market today opens in its continued correction, following Monday’s weak volume gains. Investors will have an ear out for comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, reportedly via video, at the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s Financial Market Conference scheduled for just before 9 a.m. ET.
The world has a wary eye on Ukraine, where authorities in Kiev say they have launched a counteroffensive vs. pro-Russian separatists reportedly holding official buildings in 10 cities in eastern Ukraine. A Facebook post from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared the Kiev government that had “illegally” assumed power in February had pushed the country to “the brink of civil war.”
Signs of inflation flickered as the Labor Department’s March Consumer Price Index rose 0.2%, above February’s 0.1% gain and the 0.1% increase expected by analysts. Food and energy prices had no effect, with the core CPI — minus those factors — also up 0.2%, vs. estimates for a 0.1% gain.
The New York Federal Reserve turned in a weak reading on regional manufacturing for April, with the Empire State Manufacturing Index dropping to 1.3, down from March’s 5.6 performance and far below consensus expectations for an uptick to 7.5.
In earnings news, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) climbed 2% before the open and Coca-Cola (KO) jumped 3% after solid first-quarter reports.
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) rumbled up 11% in premarket trade. The Illinois-based maker of bar code and scanning-related technologies updated its Q1 earnings and revenue guidance to above consensus forecasts. It also said it had agreed to pay $3.45 billion to buy Motorola Solutions enterprise business. The Motorola business reported $2.5 billion in revenue last year, the companies said, vs. Zebra’s $1 billion in sales. Zebra said the deal would immediately add to earnings, and that it planned to add 4,500 employees once the deal was closed.
Zebra shares ended Monday in a test of support at their 10-week moving average, trading below a March high.
On the downside, NQ Mobile (NQ) toppled 5%. The China-based mobile security software developer tanked 20% Friday, and another 13% Monday, after reporting weaker than expected Q4 results and revealing an accounting error.
Overseas, China’s markets dived with the Shanghai Composite ending down 1.4% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index off 1.6%. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.6%. Europe’s markets were narrowly mixed, with Frankfurt’s DAX lagging 0.2% after a weak reading on April economic sentiment.
The dollar continued to edge higher. Oil and gas eased, but held to their recent ranges. Gold tumbled nearly 2%, to just above $1,301 an ounce.
The National Association of Homebuilders delivers its April Housing Market Index at 10 a.m. ET.