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Before the bell: Stocks retreat as profit warnings pile up

The Before the Bell report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves in the premarket. Check back later for updates.

North American markets appear poised for a modestly weaker start, as traders continue to debate what last week's surprisingly soft U.S. jobs numbers may mean for Federal Reserve policy and the global economy.

S&P 500 futures are down 0.3 per cent and S&P Toronto 30 futures are down 0.2 per cent, which suggests the TSX will retreat at the open from the 2 1/2-year high it closed at on Friday. The Canadian dollar continues to be near four-year lows, trading this morning at 91.5 cents (U.S.).

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Asian and European markets are relatively quiet today. In Canada, the focus will be on Lululemon, which is out with an earnings warning, and on Goldcorp, which has launched a hostile $2.6-billion takeover offer for Osisko Mining.

The weak U.S. employment report suggests the Fed will be cautious going forward in the tapering of its monthly bond purchases given a still fragile jobs market. While that's potentially good for markets, the fact that the Labor Department reported the slowest monthly pace of jobs growth in three years means optimism is being dashed for a significant pickup in the growth rate of the U.S. economy.

The big focus now is fourth-quarter earnings, and the big U.S. banks will be reporting their numbers later this week. An ominous sign: 108 companies in the S&P 500 have already reduced expectations, compared with just 11 companies that have raised them, according to Thomson Reuters. If earnings growth slows dramatically, the market will be looking more overvalued by the day based on price to earnings.

Here's a closer look at what's going on this morning and what is to come.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 -0.35 per cent; Dow -0.18 per cent; Nasdaq -0.35 per cent; S&P Toronto -0.20 per cent

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Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.19 per cent

Shanghai composite index -0.16 per cent

Japan's Nikkei Closed for holiday

London's FTSE 100 -0.06 per cent

Germany's DAX +0.18 per cent

France's CAC 40 +0.10 per cent

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Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Mar) -0.85 per cent at $92.16 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Feb) -0.10 per cent at $1,245.50 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Mar) -0.64 per cent at $3.32 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 91.52 (U.S.), vs. 91.73 at Friday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.05 at 80.60

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.86 per cent, up 0.01

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

No major economic releases planned.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Lululemon Athletica shares are down 14 per cent in the premarket after it cut its current-quarter forecast after sales declined in the first two weeks of January.

Goldcorp launched a bid to buy fellow gold miner Osisko Mining Corp for $2.6 billion (Canadian) in cash and stock to gain access to Osisko's Malartic mine in Quebec. The bid, which works out to $5.95 per share, represents a 15 per cent premium to Osisko's closing share price on Friday.

Magna International shares could get a boost after a bullish weekend Barron's article said its shares are almost as overlooked as its brand.

Wendy's shares are up 8 per cent in the premarket after saying fourth-quarter EPS will come in much stronger than expected as the fast-food chain logged solid same-store growth.

SodaStream International shares are down 15 per cent in the premarket after warning it missed its profit targets for the fourth quarter.

Earnings today include: Amica Mature; Cogeco Inc.; Cogeco Cable; DragonWave; Xyratex

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Oppenheimer downgraded BlackBerry to "underperform" from "perform" and said it saw the potential for 20 per cent to 30 per cent downside from current share levels.

Canaccord Genuity downgraded Barrick Gold to "sell" from "hold" and cut its price target to $17.50 (Canadian) from $20.50.

Canaccord upgraded Agnico Eagle Mines to "buy" from "hold" and raised its target to $33.50 (Canadian) from $32.

Canaccord Genuity hiked its price target on Air Canada to $12 (Canadian) from $7.50 and kept a "buy" rating.

Raymond James downgraded North American Palladium to "underperform" from "market perform" and cut its target to 50 cents (Canadian) from $1.40.

Canaccord Genuity hiked its price target on Gluskin Sheff to $29.75 (Canadian) from $24.50 and kept a "buy" rating.

Belus downgraded Starbucks to "hold" from "buy" and cut its price target to $75 (U.S.) from $90.

Goldman Sachs raised its price target on Twitter to $65 (U.S.) from $46 and maintained a "buy" rating.

Citigroup upgraded Visa to a "buy" rating from "neutral" with a price target of $265 (U.S.).

BMO Nesbitt Burns raised its price target on Pandora to $38 (U.S.) from $32 and maintained an "outperform" rating.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey upgraded Carnival to "neutral" from "reduce" and raised its price target to $40 (U.S.) from $28.

Jefferies downgraded Marriott International to "underperform" from "hold" and cut its price target to $41 (U.S.) from $44.

BMO Nesbitt Burns cut its target on Family Dollar Stores to $61 (U.S.) from $68 and maintained a "market perform" rating.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING LINKS:

Goldman says that by almost any measure, this market is getting expensive.

Rising Treasury yields and the biggest equity market rally in 16 years are leading one measure of stock valuations to the most bearish level since 2011.

What five smart bulls are saying now.

There have already been three 100 per cent plus gainers in 2014.

Betting on chicken futures would be a good gig right now.

Dollar stores are now getting too expensive for many Americans.

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For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities.

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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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