Global stocks were down after the latest reading on U.S. initial jobless claims on Thursday morning.
U.S. stock index futures were lower with a little more than an hour before markets open, suggesting that stocks will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 42 points. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 6 points.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.8 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 0.9 per cent in afternoon trading. The region was rattled after the statistics agency there said that Greece's budget deficit was 13.9 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in 2009. That's higher than the Greek government had estimated and raises fresh concerns about the debt crisis.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 per cent in overnight trading.
In earnings news, Pepsico Inc. reported a 26 per cent jump in its first quarter results, with earnings rising to $1.4-billion (U.S.) or 89 cents a share. After excluding some one-time items, the results topped analysts' expectations by a penny.
Verizon reported a 29 per cent drop in its quarterly earnings, largely due to one-time charges. However, after excluding some costs, the results met expectations. As well, the company's chief executive said he sees signs of an economic recovery.
Meanwhile, CenturyTel Inc. agreed to buy rival landline phone company Qwest Communications International Inc. in a deal valued at $10.6-billion, the largest takeover deal in the sector in years.
Finally, the U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for period ending last week fell by 24,000, to 456,000. That's roughly in line with expectations from economists and comes after back-to-back disappointing reports over the past two weeks.