U.S. indexes follow European markets higher


Stock futures are climbing as European shares and commodities push higher.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are up 0.5 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 percent. That follows gains of more than 1 percent by Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40. Asian markets were mixed but little changed in the overnight session.

One positive headline was a decision by European Finance ministers that increases their capacity to bail out member states. There were also signs this week, such as Italy's successful debt sales, that the region has overcome the worst of its problems for now.

Investors are also focusing on the end of a very strong first quarter, with significant momentum at their backs.

Commodities are especially bullish, with oil climbing by half a percent and copper by 0.8 percent. Silver is rose 1.5 percent and gold advanced by about half as much. Platinum and agricultural foodstuffs are also strong.

Currencies are painting a slightly less bullish picture, with the euro and Australian dollar modestly higher. The gains in commodities come despite strength in the Japanese yen. But that may be positive in the longer term because it suggests that tight correlations -- often the symptom of a panicked market -- are fading.

In company-specific news, Research in Motion has had a wild ride in extended trading. The maker of BlackBerry smart phones missed earnings and revenue estimates. It also said it would stop issuing forecasts. At one point yesterday, RIMM fell as much as 9 percent but has now recovered and is up slightly before the bell this morning. Investors appear to be overlooking short-term weakness and are now waiting to see whether its next generation of BlackBerry can regain traction after significant market-share losses to Apple's iPhone.

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