Morning Briefing: Markets set for gains, oil higher

Morning Briefing: Markets set for gains, oil higher

Morning Briefing: Markets set for gains, oil higher Markets set for gains, oil higher
North American stock markets are set to open higher Friday with oil prices lifting and Amazon profits boosting Wall Street. Asian markets have closed with losses following an end-of-the-week sell-off. Meanwhile European indexes are higher so far as mixed earnings data and weakness in commodity prices failed to dampen sentiment.

US stock futures are trending higher. Oil is trending mixed (Brent down at $55.10, WTI up at $48.69 at 6.20am ET). Gold is trending lower.
 
Today’s data
PMI manufacturing index flash at 9.45am ET
New home sales at 10am ET
American Airline, Moody’s Corp. and Xerox are among the companies reporting earnings today.
 
Amazon surpasses Walmart as America’s biggest retailer
Amazon has overtaken Walmart as the biggest retailer in the US with a market valuation for the e-commerce giant of $266 billion compared to the traditional retailer’s $236 billion. The latest financial results from Amazon surprised the markets and saw its stock surge 17 per cent Thursday. Profits are still slim at the firm, which frequently posts losses, coming in at $92 million for the latest quarter (19 cents per share). However analysts were expecting a loss of 11 cents per share. Although still considered a retailer, Amazon’s growth has been attributed to its cloud services business.   
 
And here’s something else the banks may have done
Twenty-two financial organizations were sued Thursday in a class action alleging conspiracy to manipulate US Treasury security auctions. The case was brought by the state pension fund in Boston against the financial institutions, including Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and HSBC. Reuters says that none of the defendants has commented so far.
 
US financial group to be acquired by Japanese insurer
StanCorp Financial Group is to be acquired by Japan’s Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance for $5 billion. The Japanese firm announced Friday that it has agreed to buy the US group, which includes Standard Life Insurance of New York and Standard Insurance Company. Subject to shareholder and regulatory approval StanCorp will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese firm and be used as its base to expand its global operations. The acquisition is reported to be a friendly transaction approved by the StanCorp board.