Stocks were struggling on Wednesday morning, a day after a surprisingly strong U.S. report on manufacturing activity sent the Dow Jones industrial average to its highest level since the end of 2007.
U.S. index futures were down with about 90 minutes before markets open, suggesting that stocks will retreat at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 20 points or 0.2 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 3 points or 0.2 per cent.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.6 per cent in afternoon trading but Germany's DAX index rose 0.2 per cent. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.3 per cent in overnight trading. Many international stock markets had been closed on Tuesday for May Day celebrations.
Investors and economists will get a glimpse of how the U.S. labour market performed in April with the release of the ADP report on private sector employment at 8:15 a.m. (ET). Economists expect 170,000 jobs were created. While there is often a big discrepancy between this report and the official nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department, due to be released on Friday, observers pay a lot of attention to it.
Later in the morning, a report on U.S. factory orders for March will be released. Economists expect a drop of 1.7 per cent.
In earnings news, Barrick Gold Corp. reported quarterly earnings of $1-billion (U.S.) or $1.03 a share, up just 3 per cent over last year. The gold producer boosted its quarterly dividend by 33 per cent.