An unexpected plunge in U.S. durable goods orders in August to their worst level since the recession, as well as a big downward revision in second-quarter GDP figures for the country, have U.S. stock futures trimming gains this morning.
Futures are still clinging to minor gains, however, pointing to a higher start for North American stocks, and commodity prices are extending gains. There was some good news for bulls on the U.S. employment front, with jobless claims declining to the lowest level since late July.
But it could still be a volatile day. Spain at any moment is expected to reveal its austerity budget, likely further fuelling the flames of social unrest in the country.
Chinese stocks popped overnight amid hopes for a big announcement from the country's securities regulator that would do more to support economic growth. Ultimately, however, only small measures were announced.
Meanwhile, in Europe, there were more reports of protests against the financial-austerity measures already taken by Spain and Greece. Underlining the economic gloom was a weaker-than-expected reading of the European Commission's monthly economic sentiment survey.
One bright spot in Europe was Britain's latest GDP reading, showing that its economy shrank less than previously thought in the second quarter of 2012.
What should be a busy North American trading day will extend into the post market, with Research In Motion releasing its latest quarterly results shortly after 4 p.m (ET).
Now, here' the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway:
Futures: Dow +0.35 per cent, S&P 500 +0.38 per cent, Nasdaq +0.27 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +1.14 per cent
Shanghai Composite index +3.06 per cent
Japan's Nikkei +0.48 per cent
London's FTSE 100 +0.36 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.88 per cent
Germany's DAX index +0.56 per cent
WTI (Nymex Nov) +1.28 per cent at $91.13 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.74 per cent at $1,766.60 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) +0.69 per cent at $3.74 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0008, or 0.08 per cent, at $1.0162 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
U.S. durable-goods orders plummeted 13 per cent, much worse than economists expected, for the biggest one-month decline in over three years.
The US economy grew 1.3 per cent in the second quarter of the year, far more slowly than initially pegged at 1.7 per cent.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits plunged 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, a hopeful sign for the job market. It's the lowest level of weekly applications in nine weeks and was a better reading than expected.
(1000 a.m ET) The U.S. National Association of Realtors reports on pending home sales in August. Economists expect a 0.3 per cent rise from July.
Research In Motion to release its latest quarterly results after the market close.
Other earnings today include Nike Inc.
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