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Inside the Market

Premarket: Stocks in retreat; Buffett buys Suncor shares Add to ...

Global stock markets are in retreat this morning, with selling in U.S. stock futures intensifying as a slew of U.S. economic reports were released.

Among them were U.S. jobless claims, which dropped to the lowest level since October 2007 - an indication that the U.S. Federal Reserve may very well start to cut back back on its $85-billion (U.S.) bond-buying program starting next month. The Fed has tied the reduction of stimulus measures to the health of the nation's employment.

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Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, this morning reduced its full-year earnings forecast, a signal that consumer spending is still on the sluggish side. There were some weak earnings released overnight in Europe as well.

Overnight, Japanese stocks were the focal point again, and this time the move was to the downside. The Nikkei fell 2.1 per cent after Japan's chief cabinet secretary and finance minister downplayed speculation that the government was going to cut corporate taxes to offset a sales tax hike. Those rumours had lifted the index earlier this week.

The big hedge fund managers last night released their quarterly 13F filings, which detail what they bought and sold during the last quarter. Among the findings: George Soros doubled his stake in Apple - and Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought about $500-million worth of shares in Suncor.

Much more below on today's economic reports, earnings, stocks on the move and the latest market figures.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 -0.83 per cent; Dow -0.80 per cent; Nasdaq -0.99 per cent; S&P Toronto -0.57 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.01 per cent

Shanghai composite index -0.86 per cent

Japan's Nikkei -2.11 per cent

London’s FTSE 100 -0.93 per cent

Germany’s DAX -0.67 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.37 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Oct) +0.66 per cent at $107.26 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) -0.76 per cent at $1,323.30 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) -0.72 per cent at $3.32 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 96.79 (U.S.), versus 96.82 at yesterday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.14 at 81.56

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.73 per cent, up 0.02

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

Canadian home sales inched up 0.2 per cent in July from June, up 9.4 per cent from year earlier.

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2 per cent in July, matching Street expectations. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, CPI is still expected to rise 0.2 per cent. The core measure, which excludes food and fuel, also climbed 0.2 percent from June.

U.S. jobless claims for last week fell to 320,000 from the previous week's 333,000. That was also better than the forecast of 330,000 new claims.

U.S. Empire state manufacturing survey for August fell to 8.24 from 9.46 in July, and below the 10.00 that was forecast.

U.S. industrial production in July was unchanged versus expectations for a rise of 0.3 per cent. The June number was also revised lower.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. releases housing market index for August, forecast to come in at 56 after hitting 57 in July, the highest level since the height of the housing bubble in 2006.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. releases the Philadelphia Fed Survey for August, forecast to fall to 15.0 from July's 19.8, which was the strongest rate of monthly growth since March 2011.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Suncor Energy Inc. shares are up 0.4 per cent in the U.S. premarket after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported owning 17.8 million of the Canadian oil producer's shares as of June 30. The stake would be worth about $500-million. He did not have an ownership position previously.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its annual profit outlook amid a tough economy as it reported earnings per share of $1.24, a penny shy of Street estimates. Revenue at stores open at least a year fell 0.3 per cent. Shares are down 1.8 per cent in the premarket.

Cisco Systems Inc. shares are down about 8 per cent in the premarket after late Wednesday reporting sales below Street estimates.

Other earnings today include: Blackpearl Resources Inc.; Connacher Oil & Gas Ltd.; Pan American Silver Corp.; Briggs & Stratton Corp.; Applied Materials Inc.; Nordstrom Inc.

Shares in Apple Inc. will be in focus again. RBC Dominion Securities analyst Amit Daryanani raised his price target on the company to $525 (U.S.) from $475. And George Soros doubled his stake in the company during the past quarter. Apple shares are down 0.7 per cent in the premarket.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Pimco says now is the time to buy emerging market debt after its selloff.

A valuation model with an impressive record says that stocks are as overvalued today as they were at the 2007 stock market peak.

The list of NYSE new 52-week highs is getting shorter and shorter with each new market high. Is it consolidation or exhaustion?

Investors have resumed their yield-hungry ways when it comes to U.S. corporate bonds after the May/June selloff.

Money manager giant BlackRock gives three reasons for an equity dividend focus.

How the super rich are investing.

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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.

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