North American stock markets appear set for a steady start this morning, with the Nasdaq likely to underperform the other major indexes due to a slide in Apple shares.
Shares in the tech giant are down nearly 4 per cent in the premarket after reports that Japan Display Inc. and Sharp. Corp, suppliers of liquid-crystal display panels for the iPhone 5, have started to curtail production due to slower-than-anticipated global sales. Apple is now expected to order only half the 65 million panel units it had originally ordered for this quarter, the Nikkei news agency reported.
The Chinese stock market was again a major mover overnight, this time to the upside, after a regulator reportedly said China could substantially increase the amount foreigners are allowed to invest in local equity markets. Shares in the Shanghai composite index closed up more than 3 per cent, with financial shares leading the rally.
Also in Asia overnight, the Japanese yen continued to slide, hitting fresh multi-year lows against the U.S. dollar amid reports the Bank of Japan would agree to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's demand for a firm 2 per cent inflation target, thereby implying further significant monetary easing.
In Europe this morning, there was more worrisome news about the fragile state of its economy, even though stock markets posted modest gains. Data showed industrial production for the euro zone in November fell 0.3 per cent, or 3.7 per cent annualized, worse than forecasts. Political unrest was on display again in Greece, where gunmen reportedly fired shots early today at the headquarters of Greece's ruling New Democracy party, although no one was hurt.
Here in North America, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is speaking right after the 4 p.m. (ET) market close and holding a news conference. It's his first appearance since minutes of the Fed's latest policy meeting spooked market players at the start of this month, as it indicated some policy markers expect the bank to end its stimulative bond-buying program before the end of this year. He'll likely comment, however, on the benefits of the Fed's quantitative easing measures without giving any clear dates on when it plans to ease back on the stimulative measures.
Now, here's a closer look at what else you need to know this morning:
U.S. futures: S&P 500 -0.1 per cent; Dow -0.1 per cent; Nasdaq -0.5 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.64 per cent
Shanghai composite index +3.08 per cent
Japan's Nikkei Closed
London’s FTSE 100 +0.31 per cent
Germany’s DAX +0.49 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.35 per cent
WTI (Nymex Mar) +0.68 per cent at $94.62 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Feb) +0.50 per cent at $1,668.90 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Mar) +0.62 per cent at $3.68 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0010, or 0.09 per cent, at $1.0156 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
The Bank of Canada publishes its Business Outlook and Senior Loan Officer surveys for the fourth quarter.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Apple Inc. shares are down nearly 4 per cent in the premarket after reports that Japan Display Inc. and Sharp. Corp, supplies of liquid-crystal display panels for the iPhone 5, have started to curtail production due to slower-than-anticipated global sales.
Encana shares may be in play after the energy firm announced late Friday that Randall Eresman has retired as CEO. The company is now looking for a successor.
Jeweller Harry Winston is selling its high-end watches-to-necklaces division to Swatch, in a $750-million cash deal that expands the Swiss watch maker’s luxury offering and lets the Canadian group concentrate on its diamond mines. Shares in Harry Winston are up 12 per cent in the premarket.
Alamos Gold Inc. is making a takeover bid for Aurizon Mines Ltd. that values the Vancouver-based company at $780-million. Toronto-based Alamos is offering the equivalent of $4.65 per Aurizon share in cash and stock.
Russia’s state uranium firm has agreed to pay $1.3-billion to take Canada’s Uranium One Inc. private.
Research In Motion Ltd. shares are up 2 per cent in the premarket, suggesting the stock may extend Friday's 13 per cent rally.
United Parcel Service Inc. said it would drop its €5.2-billion ($7-billion U.S.) bid for TNT Express on the expectation of a European Commission veto. Shares in the Dutch company TNT Express fell as much as 50 per cent in Europe. UPS shares are up 0.4 per cent in the U.S. premarket.
Earnings today include Corus Entertainment Inc.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Once viewed as a risky fringe investment, emerging-market bonds now seem one of the safest bets in fixed income.
Four stocks that historically have beaten earnings estimates more than 90 per cent of the time.
The problem with investing in REITs instead of bonds.
20 insights from the book "superperformance stocks"
How Samsung got to be the biggest tech company in the world.
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