Global stocks were struggling on Friday after disappointing Chinese economic growth weighed against another round of upbeat earnings from blue-chip U.S. companies.
U.S. index futures were down with less than two hours before markets open, suggesting that stocks will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 27 points or 0.2 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 2 points or 0.2 per cent. Both indexes scored big gains on Thursday, giving them the best back-to-back gains of the year as the first-quarter earnings seasons gets off to a good start.
The earnings momentum continued into Friday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported earnings of $1.31 (U.S.) a share, beating expectations of $1.17 a share. The shares rose 0.1 per cent in premarket activity.
That follows strong earnings and a share split announcement from Google Inc. on Thursday afternoon, after markets closed. Google reported earnings of $2.9-billion or $8.75 a share, up from $5.51 a share last year.
Despite the strong start to the reporting season, China's economic growth is weighing on sentiment. The country's gross domestic product expanded by 8.1 per cent in the first quarter, its slowest pace in three years and missing expectations. What's more, growth was far below the so-called "whisper" number that some observers had been batting around on Thursday, which saw growth coming in as high as 9 per cent.
After the numbers were released, China's premier warned that the country continues to face a threat of inflation, which suggests that China might be less willing to resort to stimulus to boost its economy.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 1.3 per cent but Germany's DAX index fell 0.4 per cent fell 0.4 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.2 per cent in overnight trading.
Commodities were weak: Crude oil fell to $103.38 a barrel, down 0.3 per cent. Gold fell to $1,676 an ounce, down 0.3 per cent.