U.S. stock futures are slightly higher this morning, indicating some mild gains to kick off the North American trading day.
Markets are absorbing a number of breaking news developments this morning. U.S. weekly jobless claims were a bit higher than economists were expecting - and here in Canada, building permits in December tumbled at a brisker-than-anticipated pace.
Overseas, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is speaking at his monthly news conference and is providing some cautionary words on the economy. He says the economic outlook remains on the downside, pointing out that recent data continue to suggest further weakness in the fourth quarter and early 2013. Earlier this morning, both the ECB and the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged.
Meanwhile, there's a slew of earnings reports out today, including many big Canadian names.
We detail that, and what else is happening today, below.
U.S. futures: S&P 500 +0.1 per cent; Dow 0.1 per cent; Nasdaq +0.2 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -0.34 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.64 per cent
Japan's Nikkei -0.93 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 -0.45 per cent
Germany’s DAX +0.21 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.05 per cent
WTI (Nymex Mar) -0.01 per cent at $96.63 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Apr) -0.04 per cent at $1,678.20 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Mar) +0.16 per cent at $3.75 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0005, or 0.05 per cent, at $1.0036 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada said the new-housing price index in December rose 2.3 per cent from a year ago and up 0.2 per cent from November. That was a little higher than expected.
Statscan said building permits issued in December fell 11.2 per cent from November, nearly double the decline economists had expected.
The U.S. Labour Department said initial jobless claims were 366,000 last week, down 5,000 from the previous week but higher than the 360,000 economists expected.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Research In Motion Ltd. is up 3 per cent in the premarket after the company Wednesday said its Z10 devices enjoyed record BlackBerry sales this week. The company also announced this morning that it is adding two veterans of the telecom industry to its board of directors — a retired executive from U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications and a former CEO of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.
Manulife Financial Corp. reported adjusted fourth-quarter core earnings of 28 cents per share, as its net profit soared to $1.06-billion. Shares are up nearly 2 per cent in the premarket.
Teck Resources Ltd. reported adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 61 cents a share, beating analysts' forecasts of 48 cents a share. Revenues of $2.73-billion also beat analysts' estimates for $2.55-billion.
BCE Inc. hiked its dividend as it announced adjusted quarterly earnings of 65 cents a share, a penny short of analyst estimates. Revenue was virtually flat and slightly short of Street expectations. Shares are down 1.6 per cent in the premarket.
Air Canada, on an adjusted basis, posted a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2 cents per share, better than the 60 cents per share net loss from a year ago.
Yahoo Inc. shares are up 1.5 per cent in the premarket after announcing late Wednesday it reached a deal to have Google Inc. serve up advertising on some of its websites.
Sprint Nextel Corp. posted a quarterly loss of 44 cents per share, compared with a loss of 43 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose to $9.01-billion, beating Street forecasts for $8.92-billion. Shares are down about 1 per cent in the premarket.
Other earnings to come today are: Fortis Inc.; Great-West Lifeco Inc.; Hasbro Inc.; KKR & Co. LP; Matsui Construction Co. Ltd.; New York Times Co.; Philip Morris International Inc.; Sanofi SA; Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.; and Sony Corp.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
A look at some indicators that suggest the market rally is in trouble.
David Casesse, a portfolio manager for the Blackrock Equity Dividend Fund, on how to go about finding good dividend-paying stocks.
Why trying to buy low and sell high just doesn't work.
A possible bearish sign: companies have pulled back on their share repurchases.
U.S. dollar store stocks continue to lose altitude. So is it a buying opportunity?
Three reasons why investors are too complacent about the upcoming U.S. sequester.
Actively managed ETFs are picking up steam in the U.S.
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