Friday Morning Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories Moving Markets

The markets were mixed in Asia overnight. The Nikkei fell 1.80 percent to close down for the the week for the first time since November. Investors seem keen to take profits after 13 weeks of gains, and the yen cooled off to 92.51 versus the dollar. The Hang Seng climbed 0.16 percent, while the S&P/ASX 200 increased 0.72 percent.

The markets were up in Europe at mid-day as beleaguered traders reacted warmly to positive news out of China. London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.44 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 0.23 percent, and the STOXX 50 increased 0.55 percent.

U.S. futures at 8:35 a.m.: DJIA: -0.09%, S&P 500: +0.01%, NASDAQ: +0.13%.

Here are three stories to keep an eye on today:earnings

1) Chinese exports, imports, and new lending surged in January, sounding an optimistic note for the beginning of 2013 that was felt in markets around the world. Exports grew 25 percent year over year, ahead of expectations for 17 percent growth. Imports increased 28.8 percent, ahead of expectations for 23.3 percent, and a particularly satisfying growth rate because it outpaces exports.

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These results are buoyed by expectations for at least 7.5 percent GDP growth and a PMI index that broke above 50 just at the end of 2012, finally indicating growth after nearly a year of slight contraction. Economists are expecting inflation in the country to approach 3.5 percent, which may lead the government to approach its monetary policy more cautiously.