NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The dollar gained ground this morning after Benoit Coeure of the European Central Bank said the ECB would step up quantitative easing in May, June and possibly September to keep bond purchases averaging 60 billion euros per month. The news helped send European stocks rallying.
Coeure said the ECB worried that a recent European bond sell-off has erased benefits the central bank's 1 trillion euro QE program. Elsewhere in Europe, German investor confidence fell below consensus estimates as growth slowed. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research reported that its index of investor-and-analyst expectations came in at 41.9 in May. That's the lowest reading so far this year, down from 53.3 in April and beneath a consensus estimate of 49. Any reading below 50 points to economic contraction.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite rallied as investors express confidence in the People's Bank of China's action to further stimulate the Asian nation's economy through quantitative easing.
In America, U.S. equity futures are indicating a positive open, while oil is lower in early morning trading.
Notable corporate earnings due out today include Home Depot (HD), Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), TJX Cos. (TJX), Autodesk (ADSK), Analog Devices (ADI), ViaSat (VSAT), Computer Sciences (CSC) and Heico (HEI).
On today's economic calendar are April housing starts and building permits at 8:30 a.m. The consensus is calling for 1.015 million housing starts and 1.064 million building permits. At 8:55 a.m. we get the Redbook weekly sales report, while the API weekly oil-inventories report comes out at 4:30 p.m.
- European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Benoit Coeure said the central bank would moderately speed up its bond purchases in May and June, but that this had to do with liquidity diminishing in the summer months due to holidays, rather than with the recent bond selloff in Europe. He also said the speed of the recent move was of concern. Bond yields fell and stocks surged in Europe after his remarks.
- Mobile telephony giant Vodafone (VOD) reported a drop in full-year profits but said the environment was stabilizing in Europe. Growth in emerging markets continued, the company also said.
- Some traders and experts are worried that the leap second - the event that happens every few years when standard time is adjusted to account for a one second mismatch between clocks and the Earth's rotation - could affect the markets now that high-frequency trading is so widespread, the Wall Street Journal reports. The leap second will be added on June 30.
- China approved reform strategy guidelines for this year that focuses on financial reform in order to boost its slowing growth. Specific areas targeted for reform included state enterprises, taxation, the Shenzhen Hong Kong stock connect, deposit rates, the initial public offering system, and boosting the global status of the yuan currency.
- U.K. consumer price inflation was a negative 0.1% in April compared with the same month last year, the first time inflation dips in negative territory since records began in 1996, and the first time since 1960 looking at comparative historic estimates. Big drops in costs of fuel and food were the main drivers of the fall in inflation.