Why the Dow Could Climb Today

Better-than-expected figures from Alcoa and a fall in European bond yields could point to an up day.

After yesterday's heavy stock market falls in both the U.S. and Europe, investors were hoping for a little good news and Alcoa (NYS: AA) duly obliged.

The aluminum company, traditionally the first member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) to report earnings, surprised many people with net income of $94 million, or $0.09 a share, for the first quarter. Most analysts had been expecting a small loss, and its shares rose 5.4% to $9.82 in after-hours trading.

Alcoa also reconfirmed that it expects global demand for aluminum to grow by 7% in 2012, down a little from the 10% growth seen in 2011.

Over in Europe this morning, bond yields of both Spanish and Italian debt fell back slightly ahead of two big bond auctions expected later in the day. Germany intends to sell around 5 billion euros, but the Italians, never ones to be outdone when it comes to debt issuance, are hoping for as much as 11 billion euros. European shares also seemed much more relaxed than yesterday, with most bourses showing small gains.

In the U.K., the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) climbed a meager 0.1%, with little in the way of major corporate news to excite investors. Dow futures were faring a little better however, up 0.4%, while S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) futures rose 0.6%.

Fans of economic data should be well-served today, with the highlight being the Beige Book of regional economic conditions, due to be released at 2 p.m. EDT by the Federal Reserve. And of course, the earnings season will continue to gather steam this week. Our all-star team of analysts has included five of their favorite companies in our brand new free report titled "5 Stocks Investors Need to Watch This Earnings Season." Included in the report are the names of a natural gas company, a technology company, and a rapidly growing retailer that could be poised to pop after they report earnings. Get access to the report -- it's free!

At the time thisarticle was published Stuart Watson owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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