(Updated with the latest economic and corporate news)
With New York virtually shut down after superstorm Sandy slammed into the world's financial nerve centre, another light trading session is ahead for Toronto. U.S. stock markets are closed for a second day, and with the extensive flooding and other damage sparked by the storm, it's not yet known when normality will return to Wall Street. U.S. stock index futures are pointing to a mildly weaker start for the TSX, although major commodity prices are a little higher, which should lend support.
NYSE Euronext, operator of the New York Stock Exchange, said it will test a new contingency plan that could enable a restart of trading on Wednesday. Many market players are pushing for U.S. trading to resume on Wednesday because it is the last trading day of October when players settle books for the month.
U.S. bond trading is also closed today, but energy and other commodities will continue to trade electronically. The economic ramifications from the storm are not yet known, but it's speculated that Sandy will take a bite out of demand for crude oil and fuel products. Crude oil this morning is trading slightly firmer, after U.S. December crude futures touched the lowest price since July on Monday.
Overnight markets were mixed, with Asia indexes noticeably weaker than in Europe. Japan unveiled $138-billion in fresh monetary easing in a further attempt to kick-start its economy, which it warned would grow much less than previously forecast. The news out of Europe was less bleak but not terribly encouraging, with Spain reporting that its gross domestic product shrank 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, slightly better than forecasts. Britain, meanwhile, reported that retail sales picked up much more than forecast in October, further increasing the chances that Britain's economic recovery will continue.
Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway.
Futures: Dow -0.21 per cent, S&P 500 -0.11 per cent, Nasdaq -0.42 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -0.38 per cent
Shanghai composite index +0.18 per cent
Japan’s Nikkei -0.98 per cent
London’s FTSE 100 +0.75 per cent
Germany’s DAX index +0.92 per cent
WTI (Nymex Dec) +0.61 per cent at $86.06 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) +0.36 per cent at $1,714.90 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) +0.96 per cent at $3.35 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar up 0.0006, or 0.06 per cent, at $0.9997 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
Statistics Canada said the raw materials price index rose 1.3 per cent in September from August, higher than the 1.1 per cent gain that was forecast.
Statistics Canada said industrial prices rose 0.5 per cent in September from August, higher than the expected 0.1 per cent.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 U.S. cities rose 2 per cent from August 2011, the biggest year-to-year gain since July 2010, after rising 1.2 percent in the year to July. That was close to expectations.
Apple Inc. chief executive officer Tim Cook late Monday replaced the heads of its software and retail units in the company’s most sweeping executive shakeup in a decade.
TransCanada Corp. said its comparable earnings dropped to $349-million, or 50 cents per share, from $416 million, or 59 cents per share, a year ago. That missed analyst estimates by two cents per share.
Talisman Energy Inc. reported a net loss of $731-million, largely as a result of asset write-downs in various parts of the world.
Petrobank Energy & Resources Ltd. is launching a corporate reorganization aimed at streamlining activities and boosting shareholder value. It plans to distribute its 57-per-cent interest in subsidiary PetroBakken Energy Ltd. to its shareholders, followed by the creation of two new companies: New Petrobank and New PetroBakken.
Ford posted earnings per share of 40 cents, better than the 30 cents that analysts had forecast.
Other earnings scheduled (though some may postpone due to the storm) include Archer Daniels Midland Co.; Bell Aliant Inc.; BP PLC; Deutsche Bank AG; Fiat SpA; Genworth MI Canada Inc.; MDC Holdings Inc.; Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc.; Russel Metals Inc.; TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; Trimac Transportation Ltd.; United States Steel Corp.; Valero Energy Corp. and Williams Cos. Inc.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
At best, storms give retailers a short-term boost that in the end will probably only pull sales forward and hurt next month's or next quarter’s results.
The re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama next week would be positive for bonds, while a victory for Republican rival Mitt Romney would be better for equities, according to a survey of professional investors by Barclays.
There are very few hedge fund managers making a killing this year.
The price-to-earnings level for the S&P 500 is at a level not seen since the 1990s.
The market for asset backed commercial paper has nearly vanished.
For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities