Stock markets are lower across the globe this morning, as concern continues to build that a correction could be looming after the Dow Jones industrial average's eight-day winning streak.
U.S. stock futures are flat, suggesting U.S. and Canadian stock indexes will be challenged to rack up any further gains today. Futures were lower earlier this morning but erased losses as the U.S. released stronger-than-expected retail sales for February.
The Chinese and Hong Kong markets saw some of the steepest losses overnight, with home builders taking the biggest hit on a report that the city of Shenzhen banned developers from raising new housing prices. China's economic growth prospects are tied directly to the real estate sector, which has seen prices soar again in recent months, raising concerns of an expanding bubble that could burst without regulatory intervention.
In Europe, Italy held its first bond auction this morning since Fitch Ratings downgraded the country's debt last week. Not surprisingly given the country's unsettled political state, yields rose, with two-year bonds producing a yield of 2.48 per cent, up from 2.30 per cent in a bond sale in mid-February.
Market players will keep a nervous eye on the latest budgetary moves in Washington, which has seen little progress since automatic spending cuts started kicking in at the start of this month. The Democrats Tuesday had few good things to say about a House Republican plan put forward that would cut spending by $4.6-trillion (U.S.) over the next decade without raising taxes. Senate Democrats are expected to reveal their own budget plan later today. The spending cuts that are already being phased in are likely to slow U.S. economic growth significantly this year unless a new budget deal is reached.
Now, here's a look at what else is going on this morning.
U.S. futures: S&P 500 -0.1 per cent; Dow -0.1 per cent; Nasdaq -0.1 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -1.46 per cent
Shanghai composite index -0.99 per cent
Japan's Nikkei -0.61 per cent
London's FTSE 100 -0.76 per cent
Germany's DAX -0.03 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.23 per cent
Italy's FTSE MIB -1.63 per cent
WTI (Nymex Apr) +0.48 per cent at $93.37 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Apr) -0.01 per cent at $1,591.70 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex May) -0.08 per cent at $3.55 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar down 0.0012, or 0.12 per cent, at $0.9734 (U.S.)
ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
The U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales in February rose 1.1 per cent, beating forecasts calling for a rise of 0.5 per cent.
STOCKS TO WATCH:
Transcontinental Inc. said its fiscal first-quarter adjusted earnings were 37 cents per share, a penny short of the consensus estimate. Revenue for the quarter ended Jan. 31 was also less than analysts expected.
Research In Motion Ltd., which has seen volatile trade this week, is down nearly 1 per cent in the premarket.
Apple Inc., which saw at least two analyst price target cuts this week amid signs its competitive grip on the smartphone market is loosening, is down 0.1 per cent in the premarket.
Other earnings today include: Genivar Inc.; Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.; Power Corp. of Canada; Power Financial Corp.; Quebecor Inc.; Semafo Inc.
THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:
The copper market is raising doubts about the economic recovery.
An interesting look at the latest sector weightings of the S&P 500 index.
Morningstar's five favourite U.S.-listed ETFs launched in the past six months.
Lumber prices are hitting eight-year highs.
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