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Premarket: U.S. stock futures lower, Nikkei suffers heavy losses Add to ...

Stock futures suggest a weaker opening on Wall Street this morning and a flat start to the trading day on Bay Street. A much lighter schedule of earnings reports today - and only one U.S. economic report worth monitoring - should make for a quiet end to the week.

Commodities are mildly softer this morning, despite a pullback in the U.S. dollar against major currencies, underscoring lingering concerns over the sluggish global economic recovery and its impact on the demand for hard assets.

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That weakness in the greenback was on full display in Japan overnight, as the U.S. dollar slid under the 99-yen level from close to 100 the previous day. A stronger yen isn't welcome among Japanese investors, given that it makes the country's exports more expensive - and the Nikkei fell close to 3 per cent overnight. Other overseas markets this morning are mixed.

Internet travel companies could come under a lot of pressure in the U.S. this morning after Expedia revealed disappointing quarterly results late Thursday, sending its stock plummeting in extended trading hours. It's also worth watching the iron ore sector, after Cliffs Natural Resources far surpassed analysts estimates in its latest quarter.

After the deluge of quarterly earnings reports this week, the beat rates are holding relatively steady for S&P 500 companies as a whole. Of 249 companies that have so far reported, 73 per cent exceeded analysts' earnings estimates and 57 per cent have beat sales forecasts, according to Bloomberg.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on and what's to come later today.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 -0.31 per cent; Dow -0.26 per cent; Nasdaq -0.28 per cent; S&P Toronto -0.04 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.31 per cent

Shanghai composite index -0.50 per cent

Japan's Nikkei -2.97 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.12 per cent

Germany’s DAX -0.48 per cent

France's CAC 40 +0.48 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Sep) -0.68 per cent at $104.77 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) -0.02 per cent at $1,329.20 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Sep) -1.1 per cent at $3.15 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 97.35 (U.S.), versus 97.43 at Tuesday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.24 at 81.72

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.57 per cent, unchanged

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

(955 a.m. ET) Reuter's/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is released for July, forecast to rise to 84.0 from an earlier reading of 83.9.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

TransCanada Corp. reported adjusted profits of 51 cents per share, in line with analyst estimates.

Starbucks shares are up 7 per cent in premarket trading after posting quarterly profit of 55 cents a share, 2 cents better than estimates.

Zynga shares are down 17 per cent in the premarket after late Thursday it projected a loss for the current quarter well below Street forecasts.

Amazon shares are down 1.7 per cent in the premarket  after late Thursday reporting a 5.7 per cent slide in fiscal third-quarter profits.

Expedia Inc. shares are down 22 per cent in premarket action after reporting earnings and revenue late Thursday that missed market expectations.

Priceline.com, TripAdvisor Inc. and Orbitz Worldwide Inc. are likely come under pressure in sympathy with Expedia shares.

Facebook Inc. shares are down 0.1 per cent in the premarket after rallying 30 per cent in regular trade on Thursday in response to much-better-than-expected quarterly results.

Cliffs Natural Rsources Inc. shares are expected to rise after the iron-ore producer posted second-quarter earnings of 82 cents a share, beating Street forecasts for 59 cents. Cliffs is the worst-performing stock this year in the S&P 500.

Earnings today include: Brookfield Office Management; Canfor Corp.; Celestica; Total SA; and TransCanada Corp.

Desjardins Securities upgraded Precision Drilling to a "buy" and raised its price target to $12.75 from $10.50, saying the company's latest quarter shows it's "firing on all cylinders now."

Raymond James downgraded Bombardier Inc. to "market perform," citing the stock's recent strong gains and higher risks after the further C Series delay this week. He maintained a $5.50 price target.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

A U.S. mutual fund manager is snapping up shares in Barrick Gold.

It doesn't pay to be patient with mutual fund losers.

Why diversification works for investors.

What Apple's long-term price-to-earnings ratio looks like.

Influential blogger Felix Salmon of Reuters has a clear preference for who should be the next Fed chairman.

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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. You can also be notified using our dashboard feature when new articles appear from this author. Read more on using this feature here.

Follow on Twitter: @eyeonequities

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