(Updated with the latest economic releases and earnings and market data)
North American stock markets appear set for a slightly weaker opening this morning, with the most recent batch of U.S. earnings reports not inspiring a lot of confidence about the recovery in the corporate sector.
Microsoft reported mildly disappointing quarterly results in the post market on Thursday and General Electric this morning met expectations. McDonald's came up slightly short of analyst forecasts for both profit and revenue. (For a rundown of the earnings, see Stocks and Economic Indicators to Watch below).
At the European summit overnight, leaders agreed on a timetable to set up a single euro-wide banking supervisor run by the European Central Bank over the course of the next year. But leaders failed to agree on the second key step in the process: when the euro zone’s €500-billion ($653-billion U.S.) rescue fund will be able to start injecting cash directly into failing European banks.
Canadian inflation numbers this morning were close to expectations, although the loonie lost a bit of ground as the data were released, now down about one-third of a cent. The reading continued to point to benign inflation and no urgent need for the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates.
Coming up, traders will be monitoring U.S. existing home sales data at 10 a.m. (ET) for further confirmation that the sector is on the rebound.
Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway:
Futures: Dow -0.3 per cent, S&P 500 -0.02 per cent, Nasdaq -0.01 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.15 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.17 per cent
Japan’s Nikkei +0.22 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 -0.25 per cent
France’s CAC 40 -0.49 per cent
Germany’s DAX index -0.53 per cent
WTI (Nymex Dec) +0.02 per cent at $92.55 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) -0.57 per cent at $1,734.70 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) -1.34 per cent at $3.69 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0036, or 0.36 per cent, at $1.0108 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada said core inflation rose 1.4 per cent in September from a year ago, with total inflation up 1.2 per cent. It was in line with forecasts.
(1000 a.m. ET) The U.S. National Association of Realtors reports on existing home sales in September. Economists expect 4.75 million annualized sales.
Shares in BCE, Astral Media and Cogeco Inc. may see some active trading after the CRTC killed BCE's $3-billion takeover of Astral late Thursday. Cogeco is now seen as a front-running to make a bid to buy Astral.
General Electric reported adjusted earnings of 36 cents a share, meeting analyst expectations. Shares are down 1.5 per cent in the premarket.
Microsoft reported late Thursday that quarterly profit fell a greater-than-expected 22 percent, as sales of computers running its Windows operating system dipped and some revenue was deferred ahead of upcoming releases of its core Windows and Office products.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is down 12 per cent in the premarket after missing earnings expectations late Thursday.
Google shares may continue to be under pressure today after its disappointing earnings and revenues on Thursday. Today, Bank of America downgraded Google to "neutral" after six years as a "buy," trimming its price target to $745 (U.S.) from $790. Shares are up about 1 per cent in the premarket.
Honeywell International reported earnings per share of $1.20 a share, beating analyst forecasts of $1.14.
Baker Hughes reported a 60 per cent drop in quarterly earnings, with adjusted profit of 73 cents falling short of forecasts of 84 cents.
McDonald’s reported profit of $1.43 a share, down from $1.45 a year ago, as revenues edged down slightly to $7.15-billion from $7.17-billion. That missed forecasts for $1.47 profit and $7.17-billion in revenues.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
Bond giant Pimco believes the U.S. credit rating will be cut -- it's only a question of when.
...Speaking of Pimco, Bill Gross might be considered by some to be the "bond king," but he actually thinks dividend-paying stocks could be the better buy for long-term investors.
Eleven signals that investor sentiment is still ugly.
Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, dismissed talk of a price war among exchange traded fund providers.