U.S. Stocks May Extend Rally On Upbeat Earnings News

After moving sharply higher over the past several sessions, stocks may see further upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by 0.2 percent.

Ongoing optimism about the Federal Reserve being close to ending its monetary policy tightening may contribute to continued strength on Wall Street following recent encouraging inflation data.

Early buying interest may also be generated in reaction to upbeat earnings news from financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

Shares of JPMorgan are surging by 3.0 percent in pre-market trading after the company reported second quarter earnings that came in well above analyst estimates.

Citigroup and Wells Fargo are also seeing significant pre-market strength after reporting better than expected quarterly results.

Outside the financial sector, Dow component UnitedHealth (UNH) is also likely to move to the upside after reporting second quarter results that beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Labor Department showed a modest decrease in import prices in the month of June.

The Labor Department said import prices dipped by 0.2 percent in June after falling by a revised 0.4 percent in May.

Economists had expected import prices to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.6 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the report said export prices slumped by 0.9 percent in June after tumbling by 1.9 percent in May. Export prices were expected to slip by 0.2 percent.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is scheduled to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in the month of July. The consumer sentiment index is expected to inch up to 65.5 in July from 64.4 in June.

Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday, adding to the gains posted over the past few sessions. With the continued upward move, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 once again reached their best closing levels in over a year.

The major averages gave back some ground going into the close but remained in positive territory. The Nasdaq surged 219.61 points or 1.6 percent to 14,138.57, the S&P 500 jumped 37.88 points or 0.9 percent to 4,510.04 and the narrower Dow inched up 47.71 points or 0.1 percent to 34,395.13.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. South Korea’s Kospi shot up by 1.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose by 0.3 percent, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.19 to $76.70 a barrel after jumping $1.14 to $76.89 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after inching up $2.10 to $1,963.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging up $1.80 to $1,965.60 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 138.82 yen versus the 138.05 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1214 compared to yesterday’s $1.1226.

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