The Obama administration has come under pressure to ease regulations on US natural gas exports in light of the current situation in Ukraine.

Currently, US law keeps natural gas companies from exporting to countries which aren’t free-trade partners. However, as a tool to increase leverage on Russia, which currently supplies nearly 70 percent of Ukraine’s natural gas, lawmakers are pushing for the administration to loosen the rules.

Top News

In other news around the markets:

  • As part of a federal probe into General Motors handling of a potentially deadly defect in their cars, safety regulators have asked the company to answer 107 questions to clarify why the auto maker didn’t issue a recall for almost 10 years. GM is required to reply by April 3rd, or it will face a $7,000 per day late penalty.
  • The European Central Bank is set to hold its monthly policy meeting later on Thursday amid speculation that the bank will ease further in order to combat the bloc’s falling inflation. Most expect that the bank will refrain from cutting its key interest rate and instead inject funds into the region’s banking system through asset purchases or its Long-Term Refinancing Operations.
  • The US Beige Book, released on Wednesday, was the latest in a string of economic data negatively affected by the nation’s severely cold winter. In the report, the Fed described the US economy’s growth as “modest to moderate”; but most still expect the bank to continue tapering its monetary stimulus in March.
  • Western diplomats gathered in Paris in an attempt to get Russia and Ukraine to begin direct negotiations, however their efforts failed. Officials tried to get Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia to speak in person, but the two refused.

Asian Markets

Asian markets continued to improve on Thursday, the Japanese NIKKEI was up 1.59 percent, the Shanghai composite gained 0.32 percent and the Shenzhen composite was up 0.21 percent. The Hang Seng index was up 0.55 percent and the South Korean KOSPI was up 0.22 percent.

European Markets

European markets were up across the board on the prospect of further easing from the ECB. The UK’s FTSE gained 0.39 percent, the eurozone’s STOXX 600 was up 0.49 percent, the German DAX gained 0.37 percent and France’s CAC 40 was up 0.71 percent.


Energy futures were mixed, Brent futures gained 0.14 percent but WTI futures were down 0.25 percent. Gold lost 0.51 percent and silver was down 0.55 percent. Industrial metals were mostly lower with copper posting the largest loss, down 0.39 percent.


The euro was steady at $1.373 ahead of the ECB meeting and the pound lost 0.04 percent to the dollar. The greenback gained 0.38 percent against the yen and lost 0.56 percent against the Australian dollar.


Notable earnings released on Wednesday included:

  • PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) reported second quarter EPS of $1.28 on revenue of $1.80 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.21 on revenue of $1.88 billion.
  • Brown Forman Corporation (NYSE: BF-B) reported third quarter EPS of $0.82 on revenue of $1.08 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $1.03 billion.
  • MYR Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MYRG) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.46 on revenue of $254.60 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.46 on revenue of $247.76 million.

Pre-Market Movers

Stocks moving in the Premarket included:

  • Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) gained 0.48 percent in premarket trade after rising 3.49 percent over the past week.
  • Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL) fell 0.89 percent in premarket trade after losing 0.86 percent on Wednesday.


Notable earnings releases expected on Thursday include:

  • Costco Wholes Sale Corporation. (NASDAQ: COST) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $1.17 on revenue of $26.67 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.10 on revenue of $24.87 billion.
  • Kroger Company (NYSE: KR) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.60 on revenue of $22.67 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.51 on revenue of $21.73 billion.
  • Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: BREW) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.04 on revenue of $44.20 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.01 on revenue of $44.90 million.
  • Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.64 on revenue of $835.38 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.31 on revenue of $1.15 billion.


The European Central Bank’s policy meeting will take top bill on Thursday’s economic calendar; but investors will also be watching for US factory orders, US initial and continuing jobless claims, and the Bank of England’s interest rate decision.

For a recap of Wednesday’s market action, click here.

Tune into Benzinga’s pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and Joel Elconin here.

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    How Much Coca-Cola Spends on Advertising

    Learn about Coca-Cola's ad spending and why the company has decided to spend the amount of money it does. Understand comparable companies and industries.
  2. Investing

    Welcome Back, Volatility

    Volatility is likely to resurface as the Federal Reserve gets closer to adjusting its monetary policy stance, even if that adjustment is a measured affair.
  3. Economics

    What Is The Labor Market Conundrum?

    We are facing a conundrum with investment implications: Why are wages still stagnant, when jobs are being created at the fastest pace since the late 90's?
  4. Investing

    Why Are Consumers In Hesitation?

    Diverging monetary policy globally and a stronger dollar continued to be key drivers of the recent underperformance and last week’s tumble in U.S. stocks.
  5. Economics

    Bulk Shipping Companies Struggle As Markets Soften

    The "soft" dry bulk shipping market that confronts shipping companies is a result of lower demand from China, and an excessive amount of bulk ships.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Sierra Wireless Benefits From These Megatrends

    We take a closer look at how Sierra Wireless' transition from 2G to 3G and 4G technologies, has impacted its business today, and the future expectations.
  7. Stock Analysis

    3 Growth Opportunities For ARM Holdings

    ARM Holdings highlighted several growth opportunities in its most recent roadshow presentation. Here are three of the large opportunities it talked about.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Is Cheniere Energy Still On Track For 2016?

    The energy boom in the U.S. has opened up a huge range of opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
  9. Stock Analysis

    What’s The Key To Costco’s Extraordinary Success?

    Costco has been one of America's most successful companies: It's growing, efficient, profitable and its long-term shareholders have benefited a windfall.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Can American Capital Agency Maintain Its Dividend?

    Dividend investors know that real estate investment trusts with REITs that invest in mortgage-backed securities produce double-digit dividend yields.
  1. Fractal Markets Hypothesis (FMH)

    An alternative investment theory to Efficient Market Hypothesis ...
  2. Core Durable Goods Orders

    New orders for U.S. core durable goods, which are the total durable ...
  3. Investopedia

    One of the best-known sources of financial information on the ...
  4. Market Depth

    The market's ability to sustain relatively large market orders ...
  5. Closing Tick

    The difference between the number of stocks that closed higher ...
  6. Institutional Brokers' Estimate ...

    A system that gathers and compiles the different estimates made ...
  1. What is the long-term outlook of the metals and mining sector?

    An industry agency council was established by the World Economic Forum in 2014 to serve as an advisory board on the future ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the railroads sector?

    The railroads sector is comprised of publicly traded stocks for companies that operate railroad tracks and/or trains. Railroad ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Who are Amgen Inc.'s (AMGN) main competitors?

    Biotech giant Amgen Inc (AMGN) bills itself as one of the first biotechnology firms. It was founded in 1980 and has grown ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What's the most expensive stock of all time?

    Back in late August 2012, Apple’s (AAPL) stock price reached nearly $700 per share. The stock has since split but has yet ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!