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Premarket: EU leaders meet, stocks wilt Add to ...

Overseas stocks have taken a beating and North American stock market futures are down on Wednesday as European leaders sit down for yet another meeting on the region’s debt crisis.

Fear is rising again that Greece may be forced to leave the euro zone. The country’s former prime minister, Lucas Papademos, said an exit remains a real risk. In Brussels, EU leaders will discuss a range of options, including the introduction of euro bonds and larger bailout packages for countries in distress. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously expressed her opposition to these measures.

At the same time, there are further signs that Europe’s troubles are weighing on the global economy. Japan gave a disappointing report on its exports on Wednesday and the U.S. Congressional Budget Office warned that the United States could fall back into recession without continued stimulus, including tax cuts.

Markets:

China’s Hang Seng index down 1.3 per cent

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index down 2 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 index down 1.8 per cent

France’s CAC 40 down 2.1 per cent

Germany’s DAX index down 1.7 per cent

Spain’s IBEX 35 index down 2.1 per cent



Commodities:

Oil down 81 cents (U.S.) to $91.04 a barrel

Gold down 1 per cent to $1,561.10 an ounce

Copper down 1.6 per cent to $3.43 a pound

Canadian dollar down 0.2 per cent to 97.80 cents



Economic data:

(Eastern times)

8:30 a.m. Canadian retail sales are forecasted to have increased by 0.3 per cent in April, following a 0.2 per cent slide in March.

Update: Powered by automobiles and clothing, Canadian retail sales rose by 0.4 per cent in April, to $39.1-billion (Cdn), a new record, Statistics Canada reported.

10:00 a.m. U.S. new home sales are expected to have increased in April to an annualized rate of 335,000, up from 328,000 in March.

Stocks to watch:

Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth largest bank by assets, reported a 27 per cent increase in profit for its fiscal second quarter.

In the U.S., Hewlett-Packard Co. is scheduled to post quarterly results after the market close. Expectations are for declines in both revenue and profit. Investors will be looking for more details about the turnaround plan from CEO Meg Whitman. Rival Dell Inc., meanwhile, reported results late Monday that missed expectations, causing a massive selloff in the shares. In premarket trading the stock is down 13 per cent.

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