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Premarket: Stock futures edge lower as traders brace for volatile September

Markets are largely stuck in neutral this morning, despite uplifting data out of Europe showing the end of the continent's long and deep recession.

Stock futures are just a touch weaker, while commodities are mixed and without much fresh direction.

Investors may want to enjoy these quiet days of summer. September could be a volatile month, with significant risks to the downside. As the technical and seasonal analysts at Phases & Cycles suggested last week, September could see some cyclical pressures on equity markets.

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Perhaps more of a threat is the possible tapering of the Federal Reserve $85-billion-a-month bond buying program. Growing speculation that the scaling back of the so-called quantitative easing measures is fast approaching whipped markets into a frenzy in recent months - and September could be the month it comes to fruition.

According to the latest Bloomberg survey, 65 per cent of economists believe the Fed will pare the stimulus at its policy meeting of Sept. 17-18. One month ago, only about half of economists expected the tapering measures to begin. The recent strong U.S. economic data is persuading some that the Fed won't delay the measures any longer.

Federal Reserve officials have recently been dropping more hints that the day is approaching as well, but that doesn't mean the taps will be turned off all at once. On Tuesday, Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Fed Bank, said the Fed is unlikely to commit to a "full phase-out of asset purchases" given recent uneven data. Today, more clues may come from a speech from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard about an hour before the market closes.

The backdrop today suggests it's not just the U.S. economy that's finding its footing. Growth in the euro zone rose 0.3 per cent in the second quarter, according to today's data, the fastest expansion since the first quarter of 2011 and above the 0.2 per cent growth figure that economists were looking for.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on and what's to come later today.



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Futures: S&P 500 -0.17 per cent; Dow -0.12 per cent; Nasdaq Unchanged; S&P Toronto -0.03 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng (No trading due to typhoon)

Shanghai composite index -0.29 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +1.32 per cent

London's FTSE 100 -0.01 per cent

Germany's DAX +0.13 per cent

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France's CAC 40 +0.31 per cent


WTI crude oil (Nymex Sep) -0.66 per cent at $106.12 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) +0.32 per cent at $1,324.70 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Sep) +0.20 per cent at $3.33 (U.S.) a pound


Canadian dollar at 96.70 (U.S.), versus 96.68 at yesterday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index up 0.03 at 81.80


U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.71 per cent, down 0.02


U.S. producer prices in July were flat, below forecasts calling for a rise of 0.3 per cent from a month earlier.


Shares in Apple Inc. are up 1.4 per cent in the premarket, one day after rising nearly 5 per cent on billionaire investor Carl Icahn tweeting that he's boosted his share ownership in the company.

BlackBerry shares are up 3.2 per cent in the premarket, still getting a lift on the company's announcement Monday that it may put itself up for sale.

Metro Inc. says it plans to reorganize its Ontario grocery retail network over the coming months, affecting 15 stores. It will offer some buyouts and recognize a $40-million restructuring charge.

Steinway Musical Instruments Inc. said it would be taken private by Paulson & Co. Inc. after the hedge fund firm raised its offer to $40 per share, valuing the company at about $512-illion. Steinway shares are up 5 per cent in the premarket.

A large UPS cargo plane has crashed at an Alabama airport. UPS shares are down 0.4 per cent in the premarket.

Rona reported adjusted second-quarter profit of 28 cents a share, below the Street estimate of 33 cents.

Deere & Co. said its revenues rose to $10-billion in its third quarter, better than analysts' forecasts of $9.18-billion. Earnings of $2.56 a share easily beat the Street view of $2.17 and shares are up 1.3 per cent in the premarket.

Shares of Cree Inc. are down 15 per cent in the premarket after the LED light maker last Tuesday said first-quarter earnings would fall short of Street forecasts.

Shares in Macy's Inc. are down 3.6 per cent in the premarket after the retailer cut its full-year sales outlook and reported lower-than-expected sales and profits in its most recent quarter.

Other earnings today include: Fortress Paper Ltd.; Linamar Corp.; Rona Inc.; Uranium One Inc.; Baytex Energy Corp.; Cisco Systems Inc.; Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd.; Silver Wheaton Corp.;


BlackBerry's announcement this week that it was seeking "strategic alternatives" followed a year of advisers unsuccessfully canvassing potential buyers, Bloomberg is reporting quoting unnamed sources.

Portfolio managers' confidence toward Europe has hit a nine-year high.

Three reasons to worry about the hot U.S. IPO market.

What Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects Apple to unveil into 2014.

In just a few months, the market for yield-rich U.S. closed-end funds has turned from persistent premiums to decent-sized discounts. History suggests it won't last.

Some recent research claims dividends are making up 90 per cent of total stock returns. Be skeptical.

10 market insights from the new Mark Douglas book Trading in the Zone.

The U.S. credit crunch is officially over.


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. You can also be notified using our dashboard feature when new articles appear from this author. Read more on using this feature here.

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About the Author
Investment Editor

Darcy Keith is The Globe and Mail's Investment Editor. He has been a business journalist since 1992 and joined the Report on Business in 2010 from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the senior editor of finance. More


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