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Premarket: Mining shares weigh TSX futures

Canada's benchmark stock index, dominated by resource shares, looked set to open lower on Wednesday after BHP Billiton Ltd delayed a $20-billion copper-mine expansion as the global outlook for demand grows more uncertain.

Top global miner BHP Billiton delayed its planned $20-billion Olympic Dam copper expansion on Wednesday and said no major projects would be approved in the year to June 2013, as it battles escalating capital costs.

Canada stock futures traded down 0.3 per cent. U.S. stock futures, were down around 0.3 per cent.

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The S&P 500 hit a four-year intraday high on Tuesday before reversing gains and finishing in negative territory in a sign the index could struggle at these higher levels without new catalysts. Some investors are also worried about the potential for a swift reversal as has happened in the recent past.

"Is something going to happen over the next couple of days or weeks that continues this pattern we've had that every time we get up to this level it's not sustainable," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

Japan's exports slumped the most in six months in July as shipments to Europe and China tumbled, adding to concerns over global demand after a string of dire trade figures from Asia's export engines.

Stocks have rallied over the summer partly on signs of strength in the U.S. economy and partly on the belief that the European Central Bank will act to prop up the euro zone. The Japanese data, while not undermining that thesis, did sound a note of caution.

CANADIAN STOCKS TO WATCH

Telus Corp. The telecommunications provider proposed to revive its plan to unify its share structure by converting non-voting shares into common shares on a one-for-one basis.

ON THE CALENDAR

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Major Canadian economic data includes retail sales data.

Major U.S. events and data includes existing home sales and minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

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