US stock futures are pointing to a strong start on Wall Street after some positive news-flow from Europe and better-than-expected economic data closer to home.
Benchmark indices are expected to build on gains made since the start of the year. The Dow is up nearly 8%, the S&P 500 has risen almost 12% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index has jumped around 19% since the start of January.
After a hot debate, the 17 finance ministers of the Eurozone, which form the so-called Eurogroup, have agreed to boost the region’s firewall to EUR800bn. Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter announced that the amount represents the EUR500bn ESM, EUR200bn in EFSF funds already assigned to Ireland, Greece and Portugal, EUR53bn in bilateral loans and EUR49bn from the original EFSM.
French Finance Minister François Baroin said that the group is now in a stronger position to tackle discussions on the IMF in April. ‘It’s a good sign,’ he said.
Meanwhile, according to the US Commerce Department, consumer spending increased by 0.8% in February, outpacing the 0.2% rise in income. The rise was matched the top-end of economists’ forecasts which ranged from increases of 0.1-0.8%, according to Bloomberg.
Apple futures were lower after a report on working conditions at one of its suppliers’ plants found several labour-rights violations including low wages and excessive overtime.
Meanwhile, Research in Motion is expected to have a hard day after the Blackberry maker revealed a loss of $125m in the three months to the beginning of March against a profit of $934m in the equivalent period of 2009-2010. RIM is suffering from the plethora of new smartphones, which have strong emailing functionality and a wider array of apps than Blackberries.