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Global stocks were set to retreat slightly on Wednesday morning following a flurry of mixed earnings reports from blue-chip U.S. companies.

U.S. stock index futures were down with about 45 minutes before markets open, suggesting that stocks will fall at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 8 points or 0.1 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 3 points or 0.2 per cent.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 0.1 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 per cent in overnight trading.

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Technology stocks showed signs of strength after International Business Machines Corp. and Apple Inc. reported upbeat quarterly financial results after markets closed on Tuesday. IBM shares rose 2.5 per cent in premarket activity after it beat expectations with its earnings. Apple rose 2.6 per cent after it reported a 78 per cent surge in earnings and hit record revenue -- although the health of its chief executive, Steve Jobs, remains a concern after he announced at the start of the week that he was taking a medical leave of absence.

Meanwhile, U.S. financials continue to roll out their quarterly results. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reported a 52 per cent slide in its net earnings and its revenue fell more than analysts had been expecting. The shares slipped 3 per cent in premarket activity.

However, Wells Fargo reported a 21 per cent rise in its fourth-quarter net earnings, on revenue that topped expectations even as it fell more than 5 per cent. The shares fell 0.7 per cent in premarket activity.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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