Wednesday Morning Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories Moving Markets

Japan’s Nikkei made up Tuesday’s losses, gaining 0.84 percent on Wednesday, with the yen trading at 93.56 to the dollar. The Hang Seng rose 0.71 percent, closing up for the first time in three days, and Shanghai increased 0.60 percent despite earlier losses. Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.33 percent, remaining above the psychologically-significant level of 5,000 as earnings continue to come in strong.

The economic malaise cast over Europe last week after preliminary data showed weak GDP growth across the region, combined with the potentially destabilizing effects of the upcoming Italian election this weekend, left markets in Europe mixed. Germany’s DAX was up 0.2 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.03  percent, and the STOXX 50 fell 0.1 percent as New York headed toward its opening bell.

U.S. futures at 8:30 a.m.: DJIA: -0.01% S&P 500:  -0.10% NASDAQ: -0.04%.

Here are three stories to keep an eye on:

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1) Investors have one, very important question to consider as the markets near opening on Wednesday: exactly how far is the bull going to run. Fresh economic data — including the United States Census Department’s report on new residential construction — along with the the earnings report of home constructor Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) that was released before the bell will give a significant reading on the condition of the housing recovery. While the housing market has been a bright spot in the economic recovery so far, investors have pulled back slightly since the beginning of the year. Yet, all three indexes are are riding gains of between 6 percent and 8 percent, with the Dow just 1.2 percent away from its all-time, hit in October 2007. The S&P is only 3 percent away from its all-time high, which came in the same month.