Market Happenings for Friday, March 30, 2012

Pre-market, futures are up as investors look for some positive economic reports after a disappointing stretch of data. Gainers this morning include WYN, BK, WMB, NBR and DFS while losers include BRCM, RTN, RHT, CVX and NTAP.

The Market

The Commerce Department reported today that consumer spending rose 0.8 percent last month but income grew only 0.2 percent, matching January’s weak increase. When taking inflation into account, income after taxes fell for a second straight month.

Stocks are on track for a big quarterly win with the Dow up almost 8%, the S&P 500 is up nearly 12%, Russell 2000 +12.3% and the Nasdaq has gained a whopping 19% since New Year’s Day.

European stocks were higher in afternoon trading and Asian markets ended mixed.

The national average price of gasoline was up 4 tenths of a cent today at $3.925 per gallon.

Earnings Reports

Earnings reports (confirmed releases): RATE-Bankrate (earnings consensus $0.19), FINL-Finish Line (0.81), CAST-ChinaCast Education (0.16).

Financial Calendar

0830 ET Feb personal spending expected +0.6%, Jan +0.2%. Feb personal income expected +0.4%, Jan +0.3%. Feb PCE deflator expected +2.3% y/y, Jan +2.4% y/y. Feb PCE core deflator expected +0.1% m/m and +1.9% y/y, Jan +0.2% m/m and +1.9% y/y.

0945 ET Mar Chicago PMI expected -1.0 to 63.0, Feb +3.8 to 64.0.

0955 ET Final Mar U.S. University of Michigan consumer confidence expected +0.3 to 74.6, previous -1.0 o 74.3.

1000 ET Benchmark revisions to U.S. wholesale trade sales and inventories along with annual revisions to U.S. industrial production and capacity utilization.

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