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Before the Bell: Stocks look tired after euphoric gains

The Before the Bell report is compiled by editors of The Globe and Mail and is updated throughout the morning to reflect latest developments. Colin Cieszynski, Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician, is chief market strategist with CMC Markets.

Even though non-farm payrolls aren't until next Friday, there is still a lot of news moving markets heading toward the weekend.

Stocks continue to look tired following the euphoric gains seen earlier in the week. U.S. index futures are down 0.1 per cent with Dow futures hovering near 21,000.‎ The FTSE and Dax are down 0.25 per cent, while the Nikkei fell 0.5 per cent.

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Considering how far indexes have come, they continue to be well supported, but it wouldn't take much to spark profit-taking or a correction. Reports U.S. Attorney General JeffSessions has stepped away from investigations involving Russia, since he had contact with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign, reminds the Street that the political road can be a rocky one. Traders are still waiting for answers to key questions on Trump promises, particularly when and how much?

The U.S. dollar continues to rally on speculation the Fed could raise interest rates on March 15th. This week, the heavy hitters at the Fed have been out building up expectations, including NY Fed President William Dudley and Governor Jerome Powell. Even Governor Lael Brainard, who usually has been the one to dump cold water on rate hike talk, has stepped back from the dovish side. Today the Fed's two top leaders, Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer have the opportunity to weigh in as well which could spark trading in currency markets.

The U.S. dollar's gains has knocked down most other currencies with gold down 0.6 per cent and the Japanese yen, Canadian dollar and the New Zealand dollar also falling. The British pound is down against the euro and greenback  today amid the potential for disputes between the Prime Minister Theresa May and the SNP over a possible second Scottish referendum and between the two Houses of Parliament over amendments to the Brexit bill.

The one exception today is in the Euro, where recent poll results in the Netherlands and France suggest Euroskeptics may be losing ground. ‎A new French poll shows Emmanuel Macron taking the first round lead from Marine Le Pen. Meanwhile, Francois Fillion continues to lose key supporters and could drop out of the race with former PM Alain Juppe ready to step in if that happens. Also talk of a possible World Bank loan to Greece to jumpstart youth employment programs could be a positive easing stress in another flashpoint.

Service PMI reports are also out from around the world , which could have some impact on trading heading into what could potentially be a really big month for market moving news.

Now, here is a closer look at key market data, and corporate and economic news.

MARKET DATA:

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Futures (as of about 7:25 a.m. ET)

Dow -0.04 per cent; S&P 500 -0.14 per cent; Nasdaq: -0.18 per cent; TSX 60 -0.15 per cent

Equities
Japan's Nikkei -0.49 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.36 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.74 per cent 
Germany's DAX -0.17 per cent
London's FTSE -0.24 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.62 per cent

Commodities
WTI crude oil (Nymex April) +0.19 per cent at $52.71 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex April) -0.46 per cent at $1,227.20 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) -0.11 per cent at $2.6875 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies
Canadian dollar -0.01 at 74.5 cents (U.S.)
U.S. dollar index -0.21 at 101.94

Bonds
Canada 10-year bond yield -0.20 at 1.71 per cent

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KEY ECONOMIC RELEASES

Euro Area services and composite PMI and retail sales
U.K. PMI
Germany retail sales

(9:45 a.m. ET) U.S. Markit services/composite PMI for February (final).
(10 a.m. ET) U.S. non-manufacturing ISM (NMI) for February. Consensus is 56.5, unchanged from January.
(1 p.m. ET) U.S. Fed chair Janet Yellen speaks at the Executives' Club of Chicago on the economic outlook.

Earnings include: Boralex Inc.; Canadian Utilities Ltd.; GMP Capital Inc.; Progressive Corp.; Revlon Inc.; TransAlta Corp.

KEY STOCKS TO WATCH

Also see: Friday's small-cap stocks to watch

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Concordia International Corp. and Actavis face U.K. antitrust charges for allegedly boosting prices for a life-saving drug through agreements that violated competition law. The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority Friday said that from January 2013 until June 2016, the companies colluded in agreements that allowed the U.K. unit of Actavis "to prolong the high prices in the market" for hydrocortisone tablets, which deprived the National Health Service "of the significant price falls that would be expected to result from true competition."

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Caterpillar Inc.'s shares were flat in premarket trading on Friday, suggesting investors had put aside the company's tax risk as old news, a day after federal law enforcement officials searched three of its facilities. The company's shares closed down 4.3 per cent at $94.36 on Thursday, wiping out $2.47 billion of market value. The stock was down 0.5 per cent at $93.90 in trading before the bell on Friday.

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Nintendo Co.
shares rose on Friday to their highest in a month after a smooth debut of Switch, a hybrid console that aims to bring together the worlds of mobile and home gaming. Retailers in Tokyo and Sydney began selling a limited number of units early, while fans in New York and Toronto waited in the cold to buy the new devices at midnight sale events. Demand easily outstripped supply, with most retailers exhausting both pre-order and same-day inventory within minutes or hours, signaling Nintendo is on track to reach its goal of shipping 2 million units by the end of the month.

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With files from wire services

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