U.S. stock index futures are flat this morning after an eventful night in Asia that saw Japanese stocks soar as the Chinese market suffered its biggest pullback since September of last year.
Here, the TSX appears to be headed for a steady to slightly weaker opening, with major commodities taking a modest dip.
The Japan market got a boost as the government unveiled a $226.5-billion stimulus package, with plans to rebuild disaster-hit areas and beef up the military. It didn't come as a huge surprise given that recently elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pledged big spending plans on the campaign trail. But it fed into a resurgence of market speculation of late that underdog Japan could turn out to be a major market winner in 2013 after years of underperformance.
In China, investors ditched stocks as the country's inflation data for December came in higher than expected. The consumer price index rose 2.5 per cent year-on-year in December after a 2 per cent rise in November. That pointed to the possibility that the Chinese central bank may have less room to ease monetary policy at a time when the economy is just starting to pick up steam again. The Shanghai composite index lost 1.7 per cent.
European stocks are mixed this morning. In news there overnight, Spanish annualized industrial production in November plummeted a worse-than-expected 7.2 per cent, while Moody's downgraded Cyprus - which is in bailout talks with the European Union - to a level that is only two notches above default.
Now, here's a closer look at what else you need to know this morning:
U.S. futures: S&P 500 unchanged; Dow -0.1 per cent; Nasdaq unchanged
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -0.39 per cent
Shanghai composite index -1.78 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +1.40 per cent
London's FTSE 100 +0.16 per cent
Germany's DAX +0.18 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.22 per cent
WTI (Nymex Feb) -0.64 per cent at $93.67 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Feb) -0.55 per cent at $1,668.80 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Mar) -0.80 per cent at $3.68 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0004, or 0.04 per cent, at $1.0168 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada said the trade deficit in November was $1.96-billion, as exports dropped 0.9 per cent and imports rose 2.7 per cent. The deficit was much larger than the $700-million that was forecast by economists.
The U.S. Commerce Department said the trade deficit jumped 15.8 per cent in November to $48.7-billion, well above the consensus estimate of $41.2 billion. That was the biggest since April and was pegged in part to demand for imported goods for the holidays and foreign automobile demand.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Wells Fargo & Co. reported net income of 91 cents a share in the fourth quarter, up from 73 cents a year ago, and beating consensus expectations by 2 cents. But shares in premarket trading are down 1 per cent.
Mobile operator Vodafone said today some of its customers were not receiving emails via their Blackberry phones and that it was working with the handset maker Research In Motion Ltd. to rectify the problem. It's not clear whether the problem rests with Vodafone or RIM, but RIM shares are down 2.6 per cent in the premarket.
The FAA has ordered a comprehensive review of the new Boeing 787 airliner after a fire and fuel leak earlier this week. Shares are down 1.5 per cent in the premarket.
Best Buy Co. said its nine-week holiday domestic revenue fell 1.2 per cent as same-store sales fell 1.4 per cent. It also cut its free cash flow forecast. But the company's U.S. sales performance was flat, which marks an improvement from recent quarters, and shares are up nearly 5 per cent in the premarket.
American Express Co. said late Thursday that it will slash roughly 5,400 jobs as it pre-released fourth-quarter earnings of $1.09 per share, ahead of analysts' consensus forecast of $1.06 per share. Shares are down 0.5 per cent in the premarket.
Chevron Corp. said late Thursday its fourth-quarter profit would be "notably higher" than the previous quarter as oil and gas output bounced back and it booked a $1.4-billion (U.S.) gain on an asset transaction. Shares are up 0.7 per cent in the premarket.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Why RIM skipped this year's big CES tech extravaganza in Las Vegas.
Bullish sentiment has hit the highest level since last February.
Hedge funds run by women beat the industry last year.
Three sectors to avoid this earnings season.
Why natural gas prices will stay depressed in 2013.
The major flu epidemic in the U.S. is threatening to slow the U.S. economy.
It's official: Gurus can't accurately predict markets.
Top 5 ETF picks for 2013 from Matt Hougan, president of ETF Analytics.
The premarket report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves. For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities