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Premarket: Stocks sidelined as Fed meets, Suncor jumps Add to ...

Traders are being cautious this morning after the S&P 500 edged up into record high territory on Monday. U.S. stock futures are slightly negative, and overseas markets aren't seeing much action either, with the start of a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee today keeping many participants on the sidelines for now.

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The Fed is expected to maintain its $85-billion (U.S.) -a-month bond buying program given that unemployment remains a chronic problem and inflation is below its 2-per-cent target. But there's always an element of surprise when it comes to the Fed's regular meetings, particularly the tone of its monetary policy statement released when the gathering wraps up.

Recent readings on the U.S. economy have painted a picture of slow but improving growth, but the figures haven't been robust enough to instill confidence that stocks will continue their march to record highs.

Meanwhile, traders are bracing for an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank later this week after a new report today showed that inflation in the euro zone fell to a three-year low in March. Unemployment also was reported at record highs.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on this morning and what's coming up.

MARKETS:

Equities:

U.S. futures: S&P Toronto 60 -0.8 per cent; S&P 500 -0.1 per cent; Dow -0.1 per cent; Nasdaq -0.1 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.69 per cent

Shanghai composite index Closed

Japan's Nikkei -0.17 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.11 per cent

Germany’s DAX +0.48 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.28 per cent

Italy's FTSE MIB -0.49 per cent

Commodities:

WTI (Nymex Jun) -0.13 per cent at $94.38 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Jun) +0.33 per cent at $1,472.20 (U.S.) an ounce

Silver (Comex July) +0.89 per cent at $24.38 an ounce.

Copper (Comex July) -0.08 per cent at $3.22 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar up 0.0004, or 0.04 per cent, at $0.9887 (U.S.)

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

Statistics Canada said GDP in February grew 0.3 per cent, beating expectations for 0.2 per cent growth, and January's GDP figure was revised higher.

StatsCan said prices for raw materials used by manufacturers unexpectedly shrank 1.7 per cent in March as crude oil prices fell. The industrial product price index edged up 0.1 per cent, close to the 09.2 per cent economists had expected.

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-city U.S. home price index for February rose 9.3 per cent year-over-year, close to expectations.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. Conference Board releases consumer confidence index for April. Economists expect a reading of 62.0, up from the previous month's 59.7.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Suncor Energy Inc. late Monday announced a 54-per-cent dividend hike, a $2-billion share buyback and better first-quarter earnings. Shares are up 3.1 per cent in premarket.

Thomson Reuters Corp. reported a 7 per cent decline in first-quarter operating profit because of severance costs and a decrease in revenue at its Financial & Risk division. It reaffirmed its forecast for 2013 revenue growth in the low single digits.

Newmont Mining Corp. shares should be actively traded after the gold producer late Monday reported adjusted earnings of 71 cents a share, missing the Street estimate of 76 cents. Shares are down 1.8 per cent.

Pfizer Inc reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings as sales disappointed and the stronger dollar hurt overseas revenue. The largest U.S. drug maker trimmed its full-year profit outlook. Shares are down 4.7 per cent in the premarket.

Office Depot Inc. said it broke even on an adjusted basis in its latest quarter, whereas analysts were expecting 5 cents per share profit. Shares are down 1.6 per cent in the premarket.

Other earnings today include: Anheuser Busch Inbev SA; Archer Daniels Midland Co.; Athabasca Oil Corp.; Ballard Power Systems Inc.; BP PLC; Canadian Oil Sands Ltd.; CGI Group Inc.; Deutsche Bank AG; Gazprom OAO; Genworth Canada MI Canada Inc.; Heritage Oil Corp.; Marathon Petroleum Corp.; Mcgraw-Hill Cos. Inc.; Norbord Inc.; NYSE Euronext; Pitney Bowes Inc.; Resolute Forest Products Inc.; Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc.; UBS AG; United States Steel Corp.; Valero Energy Corp.; and Yamana Gold Inc.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Apple Inc. has so far downplayed the notion that it needs to make an iPhone with a larger screen, but a growing number of analysts appear to be banking on the company doing just that.

Apple's next big product will not be a gadget.

Microsoft has hit back at Apple and Google with a wacky ad.

Why as an investor, optimism should be your default setting.

Warren Buffett's two investment lieutenants are expected to pocket bonuses exceeding $50-million each based on their investment results in 2012.

The Singapore stock market has suddenly broken out to the upside.

Both technicals and fundamentals point to the potential for powerfully higher prices in grain markets.

Proof, in a chart, that the stock market and the economy are not closely related.

-----

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

 
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