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Premarket: Eyes shift to China Add to ...

North American stock index futures were down slightly on Thursday, suggesting that markets will open lower, as investors continue to worry about Europe and digest the latest Chinese economic data.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average dipped 17 points, or 0.13 per cent. S&P 500 futures were flat and those on the S&P/TSX were down a fraction.

Overseas markets have registered marginal losses today, with the exception of Spain’s benchmark index. The IBEX 35 index rose more than 1 per cent after the Bank of Spain said it is partially nationalizing Bankia, after the country’s fourth-largest lender was unable to repay money owed to the government.

In Greece, it’s looking increasingly likely that voters will have to go back to the polls next month after multiple parties have been unable to form a coalition government following last weekend’s elections.

The latest Chinese trade data showed both imports and exports falling short of expectations, stoking fears of a global slowdown.

Economic data coming out of the U.S. today include weekly jobless claims, which are forecast to be unchanged from a week ago; the import-price index for April; and March trade data, expected to be close to February’s numbers.

Gold prices declined for a fourth day, slipping 0.2 per cent to $1,591.20 (U.S.) an ounce. The loonie opened at 99.89 cents, down 0.02 of a cent from Wednesday's close. Oil prices fell for a seventh session, losing 73 cents to trade at $96.08 a barrel

Sun Life Financial Inc. reported this morning that profit rose 56 per cent in the first quarter, spurred by rising stock prices and bond yields. Other companies reporting today include Bombardier Inc., Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Canadian Tire Corp. Late yesterday, Cisco Systems shares plunged 9 per cent in after market trading on Wednesday after the company posted solid growth but disappointed on guidance.

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