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Premarket: Stocks vulnerable to another selloff Add to ...

This week hasn't been very cheery for investors, and there's little this morning to suggest sentiment is going to turn around in a hurry. U.S. stock futures are slightly lower, and overseas markets generally softer, after the S&P 500 slumped for a third straight day on Tuesday and the S&P/TSX index took a nasty 145-point fall.

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Alcoa's quarterly report after the closing bell on Tuesday, widely scrutinized for what it may suggest for the coming earnings season, didn't exactly ignite a lot of confidence. Adjusted earnings and sales topped the Street consensus, but not by a wide margin. Meanwhile, Alcoa cut its 2012 global aluminum demand forecast, citing a slowdown in China, further illustrating the precarious state of the global economy. Alcoa shares are down 0.6 per cent in the premarket.

Not surprisingly, commodities are a little weaker this morning, too, with news that OPEC has lowered its 2012 world oil demand forecast not helping. It now sees demand growing 100,000 barrels per day less than its previous forecasts, to 800,000 bpd.

There aren't many economic reports out this morning to note, but the U.S. Federal Reserve Board issues its Beige Book this afternoon, which should shed some light on how the U.S. economy is recovering.

Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway:

MARKETS:

Equities:
Futures: Dow -0.2 per cent, S&P 500 -0.1 per cent, Nasdaq -0.1 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -0.08 per cent

Shanghai composite index +0.23 per cent

Japan’s Nikkei -1.98 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.40 per cent

France’s CAC 40 -0.20 per cent

Germany’s DAX index -0.23 per cent

Commodities:
WTI (Nymex Dec) -0.43 per cent at $92.38 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) -0.05 per cent at $1,764.10 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) -0.55 per cent at $3.70 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:
Canadian dollar down 0.0002, or 0.01 per cent, at $1.0223 (U.S.)

STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

(2 p.m. ET) The U.S. Federal Reserve Board issues its Beige Book, a survey of economic conditions around the country.

AuRico Gold is up nearly 10 per cent in the premarket after announcing late Tuesday it has agreed to sell its Ocampo mine and entered into a joint venture on the Orion project for $750-million in cash. Canaccord upgraded the stock to a buy from a hold.

Chevron said third-quarter earnings will come in substantially lower because of lower prices and a drop in production resulting from Hurricane Isaac. Shares are down 1.3 per cent in the premarket.

Costco Wholesale reported this morning quarterly net income rose a stronger-than-expected 27 per cent, with comparable-store sales rising 5 per cent.

Restaurant operator Yum Brands reported after the closing bell Tuesday that it raised its full-year-per-share target to a growth rate of at least 13 per cent.

Wells Fargo & Co. announced late Tuesday that the U.S. Attorney filed a lawsuit against the bank in a New Yor court, which said it acted recklessly over mortgage issuance. The stock is up 0.2 per cent in the premarket.

Quebec-based Jean Coutu said that its net profit in the three months ended Sept. 1 was $51.2-million or 23 cents per share. That compared with 66.4 million or 20 cents per share in the comparable year-earlier period. Revenues rose.

Other earnings out today include DragonWave Inc.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Bill Gross's Total Return exchange traded fund has quickly reached $3-billion (U.S.) in assets and has outperformed the world’s largest mutual fund, which follows a similar strategy.

...So, where is Bill Gross' Pimco total Total Return fund invested right now? Here a detailed breakdown.

The latest 10 forecasts for gold by large global research houses suggest $1,900 an ounce will be reached in about a year.

The Apple stock chart has traced the dreaded head-and-shoulders pattern, a well-known and well-followed reversal pattern in traditional technical analysis. But that doesn't instantly make the stock a sell.

Why some companies manage expectations better than others.

Despite the common conventional wisdom that a Romney victory would be better for the market, there's zero evidence of this actually taking place in practice.

How to successfully pick stocks to short using a David Einhorn strategy.

A new academic report suggests 20 per cent of U.S. firms cook the books during earnings.

How to find bargain stocks using the value strategies of Warren Buffett.

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Today marks the premier of a new blog here at Globe Investor that's sure to spark some intense debates. We're calling it Trading Shots. Watch as several of Canada’s top financial journalists smack down conventional wisdom, bust money myths and deliver stinging blows to the forces that can prey on your portfolio. Then join in the fray.

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