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Premarket: Stocks lower, copper dives on Chinese economy worries Add to ...

Markets are softer this morning, with a weaker-than-expected investor confidence survey in Germany keeping investors cautious as the debate continues on whether this year's record-breaking rally has gone on far too long.

U.S. stock futures and European and Asian markets are all modestly lower, and commodity prices are also trading with a weak tone. Copper prices are down more than 2 per cent - their biggest fall in almost two weeks - after JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its forecast on the Chinese economy to 7.6 per cent from 7.8 per cent. It followed a report on Monday that showed industrial production in the country expanding less than economists had forecast. Growth in the Chinese economy is crucial right now for copper, given that the market is well supplied with the metal globally.

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In Germany, the ZEW Center for European Economic Research's index of investor and analyst expectations rose to 36.4 from 36.3 in April, a disappointment given that economists were expecting a number more like 40.

U.S. Federal Reserve policy is also in spotlight again today, after Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser made some fresh comments reiterating that the central bank should reduce bond purchases.

Mr. Plosser, speaking in Stockholm, underlined the importance of the Fed easing back slowly on its asset purchases when it's time to wrap up its quantitative easing plans. His comments followed a Wall Street Journal article a few days ago that quoted Mr. Plosser as saying the Fed has mapped out a carefully thought out exit plan from the stimulus measures.

Now, here's the rundown of what else is happening this morning and what's to come.

MARKETS:

Equities:

U.S. futures: S&P Toronto Unchanged; S&P 500 -0.22 per cent; Dow -0.25 per cent; Nasdaq -0.29 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.26 per cent

Shanghai composite index -1.11 per cent

Japan's Nikkei -0.16 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.19 per cent

Germany’s DAX -0.23 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.51 per cent

Italy's FTSE MIB -0.51 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Jly) -0.50 per cent at $94.93 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Jun) -0.48 per cent at $1,427.40 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex July) -2.17 per cent at $3.29 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar down 0.0027, or 0.27 per cent, at $0.9869 (U.S.)

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

No major reports reports scheduled.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Research In Motion Ltd. CEO Thorsten Heins keynotes the BlackBerry Live three-day event in Orlando, Fla. He could provide some sales metrics on the new Q10 and Z10 smartphones, or possibly reveal plans for a lower-price smartphone for emerging markets.

Sony Corp. could see heavy trading volume after a report that hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb called on the Japanese company to break up and spin off its entertainment unit. Shares are up 2.5 per cent in the premarket.

Earnings today include: Bird Construction Inc.; FP Newspapers Inc.; Gran Colombia Gold Corp.; Morneau Shepell Inc.; Pan American Silver Corp.; Pfizer Ltd.; Power Financial Corp.; Rona Inc.; Semafo Inc.; Vivendi SA

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

The S&P 500's price-to-earnings ratio has reached a three-year high.

Can index investors be socially responsible?

Count Barron's as one of the handful of forecasters correctly predicting the Dow would hit 15,000 this year. And now it says that performance may be just the beginning.

The U.S. stock market is at record highs, but fewer Americans are enjoying the benefit.

U.S. investment banks are dominating global finance once more, but that's not necessarily good for America.

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The premarket report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves. For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities.

Follow on Twitter: @eyeonequities

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