Market Hustle: Stock Futures Rise Ahead of Yellen; Chinese GDP Beats Estimates

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing higher Wednesday after better-than-expected Chinese growth while investors anticipated dovish remarks from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

Companies such as Google (GOOG) are due to report earnings.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 84.44 over fair value to 16,272.0 while futures for the S&P 500 were up 11.27 over fair value to 1,847.75. Futures for the Nasdaq were gaining 30.65 over fair value to 3,509.8.

  • China's gross domestic product growth fell to its slowest level in 18 months at 7.4% during the first quarter due to weaker momentum in investment and consumption. Yet the result was slightly above expectations for a 7.3% reading, leading to uncertainty about whether China will take further measures to boost growth. GDP notched 7.7% in the fourth quarter and growth lags the target of 7.5% set by Chinese authorities for 2014.
  • Ukraine military tensions continued as vehicles flying Russian flags with armed fighters moved into eastern Ukrainian cities early on Wednesday. The Ukrainian army is pushing to clear pro-Russian separatists out of 10 cities in the eastern region of Donetsk.
  • U.S. home construction grew less than forecast in March, with housing starts rising 2.8% to a 946,000 annualized rate after a 920,000 gain for February. Expectations were for an increase to 970,000. Permits for future projects fell.
  • Industrial production data is due at 9:15 a.m. EDT with forecasts calling for a rise of 0.4% in March after a 0.6% gain in February. Janet Yellen is due to speak at the Economic Club of New York at 12:15 p.m. while Beige Book data is due at 2 p.m.
  • In international markets, the Hang Seng closed 0.11% higher while the Nikkei jumped 3.01%. Germany's DAX was rising 0.82% while the FTSE was 0.27% higher.
  • European Union consumer prices rose at the slowest pace for 4.5 years in the year to March, underlying the problem of falling inflation across the region. Consumer prices in the 18 nations that share the euro were 0.9% higher in March than February, and 0.5% higher than a year earlier.
  • The U.K. jobless rate fell to 6.9% in the three months to February, beating expectations of a 7.1% result.
  • Companies expected to see price action Wednesday include Google, Bank of America (BAC), International Business Machines (IBM) and American Express (AXP).
    Google is slated to post earnings of $6.35 a share in the first quarter.
  • Bank of America shares were falling 1.3% in premarket trading to $16.18 after the bank posted a first-quarter loss of 5 cents a share. The bank recorded a $6 billion litigation expense in the quarter.
  • IBM is forecast to post earnings of $2.54 a share while American Express is likely to report first-quarter earnings of $1.30 a share.
  • After Tuesday's closing, Intel (INTC) announced earnings of 38 cents a share against 40 cents a share a year ago. Yahoo! (YHOO) said first-quarter earnings dropped to 29 cents a share from 35 cents a share a year earlier. Yahoo! shares gained over 7% in after-hours trading.
  • Markets closer higher Tuesday amid strong earnings from companies such as Coca-Cola  (KO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

-- By Jane Searle in New York

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