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21Apr2017 Pre-Market Commentary: US Stock Markets To Open Higher, Blue-chip Dow Futures Inched Up 7 Points, North Korea And French Election Being Watched Closely By Investors

Written by Gary

Wall Street futures pointed to a fractionally higher open this last day of the week (SPY +0.1%) after stocks surged yesterday on promises from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the administration was close to "major tax reform".

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets are mixed today. The DAX is up 0.44% while the FTSE 100 gains 0.14%. The CAC 40 is off 0.12%.

Thursday's Key Earnings

Blackstone (NYSE:BX) +0.5% after topping expectations.
Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) -6.8% AH whacked by inventory issues.
Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) -3.5% on an earnings miss.
Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -1.1% losing core subscribers.
Visa (NYSE:V) +2.1% AH boosted by Europe unit, buybacks.

Wall Street set to open slightly higher after Mnuchin suggests tax reforms are close

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Stock futures little changed as French election in focus

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday as investors stayed away from making big bets ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections over the weekend.

Wells Fargo expands settlement to include more customer accounts

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co said it would expand its class action settlement related to the lender's retail sales practices to include customer accounts as early as May 2002.

GE cash flow turns negative in quarter; profit, revenue beat

(Reuters) - General Electric Co reported on Friday that first-quarter cash flow from its industrial operations turned negative and was less than the company expected, though its earnings and revenue exceeded analyst estimates.

Trump targets cheap Chinese steel in probe, rallying U.S. steel stocks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the U.S. market, raising the possibility of new tariffs and sending shares of some U.S. steel makers up over 8 percent.

Honeywell beats profit estimates; raises earnings forecast

(Reuters) - Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday, as sales in its aerospace and energy businesses came in above the company's forecast.

Elon Musk on mission to link human brains with computers in four years: report

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said his latest company Neuralink Corp is working to link the human brain with a machine interface by creating micron-sized devices.

Trump tax plan to rely on future U.S. growth to fund cuts: officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's tax reform plan will rely largely on future revenue gains from faster economic growth to justify major tax cuts, top Trump advisers said on Thursday.

Apparel retailer Bebe Stores says to shut all stores

(Reuters) - Struggling apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc said on Friday it would close all its stores by the end of May, barely a month after announcing it was exploring strategic alternatives following four years of losses.

Exxon probe is unconstitutional, Republican prosecutors say

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group of 11 Republican state attorneys general are protesting an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp. violated consumer protection laws when selling fossil fuel products, according to a court filing.

Frontrunning: April 21

Attack overshadows last campaign day in France (Reuters)

Paris Gunman Was Questioned by Police in February (WSJ)

French PM knocks Le Pen, Fillon stance on security after Paris shooting (Reuters)

Battle zone scenes at Paris Champs Elysees (Reuters)

In 'Buy American' Push, Trump Is Starting in a Hole (WSJ)

Trump Steel Probe Adds Tinge of Economic Nationalism (WSJ)

Mnuchin's Talk of Tax Plan 'Soon' Stirs Markets and Skeptics (BBG)

Trump, GOP Race to Revive Health Bill, Avoid Government Shutdown (WSJ)

Farmers Have a Beef With Trump and Big Meat (BBG)

Stock futures little changed as French election in focus (Reuters)

Euro-Area Recovery Broadens With Strongest Growth in Six Years (BBG)

Markets Send a Worrying Message ...

Silver, Platinum and Palladium as Safe Haven Investments

Silver, Platinum and Palladium as Safe Haven Investments

- Silver, platinum and palladium see increased role as investment vehicles
- Increase in academic output on the white precious metals is in line with this
- Silver and particularly gold are safe haven assets
- Silver was a safe haven at times during which gold failed to be
- Platinum and palladium less so but have diversification benefits
- Silver manipulation is possible and indications of, if not legal proof

South Korea On Heightened Alert As North Prepares For Major Army Event

Just two days after China warned that April 25 is the "highest probability" day for a North Korean nuclear test, South Korea said on Friday that it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

Recall that on Wednesday, Boxun News cited a Chinese source who said that "China believes there is the "highest possibility" of a nuclear test on April 25, but "does not leave out the possibility it might take action in early May."

North Korea test-fired what the United States believed was a mid-range missile on Sunday. It blew up almost immediately. The failed launch came a day after the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. Now, there is concern the North will use the next big day on its calendar, April 25, to show off its strength again.

"Although North Korea attempted a missile launch but failed on April 16, considering the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People's Army, there are concerns that it can make another provocation again at any time," South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn told top officials on Thursday. He called on the military to maintain readiness.

Additionally, as discussed yesterday, Beijing is not taking any chances: U.S. officials said on Thursday there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signaling a possible heightened state of readiness by China, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons. At ...

Trump Says Paris Attack "Will Have Big Effect On Election" As French Police Hunt Second Suspect

President Trump tweeted on Friday morning that this week's "terrorist attack in Paris" will have "a big effect" on the country's presidential election set for Sunday.

Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017

On Thursday, a gunman was shot dead after opening fire on officers along the Champs Elysees, killing one and wounding another. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack which overshadowed the last day of campaigning for Sunday's presidential election first round, bringing raw issues surrounding Islamist militancy to the fore.

Trump did not mention any of the presidential contenders in France's election by name. Eleven candidates are running, with four seen as have the best chances for making a run-off of two, which would be held May 7. Trump's tweet comes the day after he offered "condolences from our people to the people of France" during a press conference at the White House.

And while markets remain in a holding pattern, trying to decide if Thursday's attack will have an impact on the outcome of Sunday's race, the French probe into the shooter and his accomplice continued.

As reported last night, the man who shot dead a French policeman in an Islamist militant attack had served time for armed assaults on law enforcement officers, police sources said on Friday, as authorities sought a second suspect flagged by Belgian security services. The gunman, identified as Karim Cheurfi, opened fire on a police vehicle parked on the Champs Elysees in Paris late on Thursday, killing one officer and injuring two others before being shot dead.

Cheurfi, a French national w ...

Are Markets Prepared for a French Election Surprise?

Political surprises in 2016 mean investors have taken greater precautions ahead of the French presidential vote—but there could still be fireworks on Monday.

Trump's Steel Battle Looks Unwinnable

A big steel tariff is unlikely do much to boost U.S. growth or employment, given China's advantages.

Banks and Borrowers Are Waiting on Washington

Regional banks are seeing both optimism and angst in the American heartland, reporting that their customers are waiting for clues from Washington before taking action.

Rail Week Ending 15 April 2017: Economically Intuitive Sectors' Decline Continue

Week 15 of 2017 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. The economically intuitive sectors declined.

World Geconomic Rowth Is Expected To Rise From 3.1 Percent In 2016 To 3.5 Percent In 2017

from the International Monetary Fund

Global economic activity is picking up with a longawaited cyclical recovery in investment, manufacturing, and trade. World growth is expected to rise from 3.1 percent in 2016 to 3.5 percent in 2017 and 3.6 percent in 2018, slightly above the October 2016 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast. Stronger activity and expectations of more robust global demand, coupled with agreed restrictions on oil supply, have helped commodity prices recover from their troughs in early 2016.

The Tell: Traders are dangerously complacent about the French election

Are markets underestimating the possibility of another nationalist upset? That's the big question on every currency traders' mind as French citizens prepare to head to the polls on Sunday to vote in the first round of a hotly contested presidential election.

Market Snapshot: Stock market set for small opening gains on revived tax-cut hopes

U.S. stocks are set for a slightly higher open on Friday, boosted by optimism over imminent tax reforms, but with investors taking a cautious stance ahead of the closely watched election in France.

Market Extra: 5 charts show what the French presidential election means for financial markets

Financial markets are jittery ahead of the closely watched French election on Sunday and for good reason: Polls are still incredibly close, raising fears an euroskeptic candidate could end up in the presidential seat and spark months of market turmoil.

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