Stocks pause, oil drops back ahead of big Doha meeting

US index futures have remained flat overnight with Dow and S&P futures trading down 0.1% this morning. Major European indices are also holding steady with the FTSE down 0.3% and the Dax down 0.6%.

Trading has taken a more cautious tone today in between significant developments. China’s GDP and other major data reports are all out now along with the first wave of big bank earnings from the US. China’s GDP was in line and industrial production was strong. Australia stocks and NZD rallied on the China news but other Asia markets were quiet suggesting that rallies made earlier in the week had already priced in the results.

Similarly, US indices have been steady with bank earnings providing scope for some cautious optimism, but broad markets may be waiting for confirmation of improved results from a broader range of sectors next week. Interestingly, yesterday’s better than expected results from Delta sparked a big rally for major airlines, indicating that positive surprises may have a bigger impact on individual stocks and sectors.

Crude oil is dropping back this morning with WTI retreating back toward the $40.00 level. Oil has had a big run upward in recent weeks on anticipation of this weekend’s big meeting between OPEC producers and Russia to nail down details of a production freeze. With the potential for a deal apparently already priced in and potential upside limited, some traders appear to be taking profits off the table ahead of the meeting in case anything goes wrong. It remains to be seen if Iran’s return to the market will become a sticking point that could derail a deal or if it just gets factored into the plan.

There are still a few developments that could move some markets today. In the US, earnings from Citigroup are still expected this morning along with Empire Manufacturing data. In Canada, some stocks could be active today news that Mitel has agreed to purchase Polycom for $1.96B could attract attention Valeant could be active on social media rumours it is discussing its options with investment banks and more reports floating around in the press that Delta Air Lines could be preparing to place a big order for Bombardier CSeries aircraft.


Corporate News

Mitel    agrees to acquire Polycom for $1.96B in a friendly cash and stock deal valuing Polycom at $13.68 per share. Combined company to have $2.5B in annual revenues.


Economic News

Significant announcements released overnight include:

China Q1 GDP            6.7% as expected vs previous 6.8%
China industrial production    6.8% vs street 5.9%
China retail sales        10.5% vs street 10.4%
China fixed assets         10.7% vs street 10.4%
China new Yuan loans        $1,370M vs street $1,100M

Japan industrial production    (1.2%) vs previous (1.5%)
Singapore retail sales        (3.2%) vs street 3.4%
Singapore retail ex auto        (9.6%) vs street (1.5%)

Norway trade balance        NOK 9.1B vs previous NOK 9.5B
UK construction output        0.3% vs street 0.7%


Upcoming significant announcements include:

8:30 am EDT        US Empire manufacturing    street 2.00
8:30 am EDT        Canada manufacturing sales    street (1.5%) vs previous 2.3%

9:00 am EDT        Canada existing home sales    previous 0.8%
9:15 am EDT        US industrial production        street (0.1%)
9:15 am EDT        US manufacturing production    street 0.1%

10:00 am EDT        US consumer sentiment        street 92.0 vs previous 91.0
12:50 pm EDT        FOMC Evans speaking
1:00 pm EDT        US Baker Hughes drill rig count    previous 443