U.S. stock futures this morning are nearly unchanged, but don't be deceived. There's a lot on today's economic and corporate news agenda that may make for a volatile and unpredictable day.
There are more than six U.S. economic reports coming out this morning, including readings on the job market, construction and manufacturing. The auto manufacturers, as well as several U.S. retailers, are revealing their latest sales figures. And there's a raft of corporate earnings, including from some of the biggest names in Canada.
Rarely has there been such an avalanche of U.S. data all at once for traders to absorb, and it's all a lead up to the biggest economic report of the week - U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday. We'll update the developments below as the morning progresses in our Stocks and Economic Indicators to Watch section.
Markets overnight were generally higher, especially in China, where official and private sector factory surveys showed economic growth there is finally regaining some traction. The official October Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 50.2 from 49.8 in September, just below a 50.3 forecast by a Reuters poll last week and the first reading since July that suggested a pickup in activity. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 49.5 in October from 47.9 in September. The reading was the highest since February.
That's lending some support to commodity prices this morning, providing a positive backdrop to the TSX when it opens.
In Japan, markets were much less enthusiastic, as both Panasonic and Sharp warned they will post a combined annual loss of more than $15-billion, reigniting fears about the outlook for the corporate sector of that country.
Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway.
Futures: Dow +0.1 per cent, S&P 500 +0.1 per cent, Nasdaq +0.3 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.83 per cent
Shanghai composite index +1.70 per cent
Japan’s Nikkei +0.21 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.40 per cent
Germany’s DAX +0.56 per cent
France's CAC 40 +0.58 per cent
WTI (Nymex Dec) +0.22 per cent at $86.43 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.22 per cent at $1,722.80 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) +0.91 per cent at $3.55 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0004, or 0.04 per cent, at 1.0003 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
ADP said private payrolls rose 158,000, more than the 131,000 that was expected, although the calculations used a new methodology.
U.S. initial jobless claims fell 9,000 last week to 363,000. That was better than the 369,000 economists had predicted.
The U.S. Labour Department said non-farm productivity rose 1.9 per cent in the third quarter, a little better than expected. Unit labour costs fell 0.1 per cent; economists were expecting a rise of close to 1 per cent.
(1000 a.m. ET) The U.S. Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for October. Economists expect a reading of 51.5.
(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. conference board releases consumer confidence for October. Economists expect a reading of 74.0, up from 70.3.
(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. releases construction spending for September, which is expected to rise 0.6 per cent following a dip in August.
Suncor Energy Inc. has trimmed its 2012 budget by about 11 per cent after coming in under budget on one of its expansion efforts and slowing spending on major growth projects. Its shares are up 2.3 per cent in the premarket.
Barrick Gold Corp. reported earnings that missed Street estimates and said the cost overrun at its Pascua-Lama gold project will be even greater than expected. Its U.S.-listed shares are down 2.2 per cent in the premarket.
BCE Inc. said it’s on track to meet the 2012 financial guidance it issued in August but the telecom and media giant’s profit was slightly below analyst estimates in the third quarter.
Cameco Corp. said third-quarter adjusted earnings were just half the year-earlier level on lower uranium sales and prices and higher costs. Revenue was also lower. But the uranium producer reaffirmed its sales, revenue and production guidance for the year.
Cott Corp. said third-quarter earnings fell to 15 cents a share from 17 cents and revenue fell per cent.
Fortis Inc. said third-quarter earnings fell to 24 cents a share from 30 cents.
Husky Energy Inc. said third-quarter net earnings were unchanged at 53 cents a share, while adjusted earnings fell by a penny to 52 Canadian cents a share, which beat expectations.
Pfizer Inc. reported an adjusted third quarter net income of 43 cents, declining from 48 cents a year ago.
Exxon reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.09, beating analysts estimates of $1.96. It also announced plans to buy back $5-billion (U.S.) in shares in the fourth quarter. But shares are down close to 1 per cent in the premarket.
North American automakers release October motor vehicle sales throughout the day. So far, Chrysler said its U.S. sales rose 10 per cent last month, its best October since 2007.
Other scheduled earnings include: Cogeco Cable Inc.; Fortis Inc.; HudBay Minerals Inc.; Imperial Oil Ltd.; Inmet Mining Corp.; Marathon Petroleum Corp.; Mega Brands Inc.; Newmont Mining Corp.; Nova Chemicals Corp.; Pengrowth Energy Corp.; Penn West Petroleum Ltd.; Royal Dutch Shell PLC; Stantec Inc.; Starbucks Corp.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Two-thirds of investors plan to vote for Mitt Romney, a new MoneyShow poll shows.
David Rosenberg says don't hold cash, focus on dividend yield and growth right now, including Canadian banks and some pipeline exposure.
Asset allocation models based on an investor’s age tend to be inherently flawed. Here's a better alternative, the "flight path" approach that takes into account an investors' growing experience level.
Germany has some of the biggest gold reserves in the world, but much of it is held outside the country. Now there is a campaign under way in Germany to bring the metal back home.
Ross Levinsohn has given his first interview since Marissa Mayer replaced him at Yahoo - and he's not showing a lot of hard feelings.
For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities