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Premarket: Surprise jump in jobless claims ignites selling

(Updated with the latest economic and market data and corporate earnings.)

U.S. stock futures are pointing lower as the opening bell approaches, with a surprise jump in initial U.S. jobless gains igniting a bearish feel to the market this morning after an initial flat start.

The U.S. reported that initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose 46,000 last week to 388,000. Economists had forecast 365,000. Stock as well as commodity futures ticked lower as the data came out, suggesting the TSX will come under pressure as trading gets underway.

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China's gross domestic product report overnight came in as expected, with third-quarter growth of 7.4 per cent. It's the seventh consecutive quarter of slowdown and the lowest rate of quarterly growth since the start of 2009. The fact that it was at least not any worse than economists expected helped Asian stocks to rally overnight.

According to Bespoke Investment, 33 of the 44 S&P 500 companies that have reported their third quarters as of Wednesday have beaten their EPS estimates. That's a beat rate of 75 per cent, but doesn't tell the whole story. The revenue beat rate is only 43 per cent, and so far twice as many companies have lowered guidance than raised it.

For a rundown of earnings results so far today from key companies, see Stocks and Economic Indicators to Watch below.

Now, here's the rundown of what else you need to know before the trading day gets underway:


Futures: Dow -0.1 per cent, S&P 500 -0.03 per cent, Nasdaq -0.04 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index +0.48 per cent

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Shanghai composite index +1.25 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +2.00 per cent

London's FTSE 100 -0.15 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.30 per cent

Germany's DAX index +0.37 per cent

WTI (Nymex Dec) -0.50 per cent at $91.12 (U.S.) a barrel

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Gold (Comex Dec) -0.61 per cent at $1,742.30 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) -0.28 per cent at $3.74 (U.S.) a pound

Canadian dollar down 0.0022, or 0.23 per cent, at $1.0202 (U.S.)


Statistics Canada said wholesale trade in August rose 0.5 per cent from the previous month, stronger than forecast. Wholesale inventories rose 0.8 per cent.

U.S. initial jobless claims for last week rose 46,000 to 388,000, higher than the 365,000 that was expected.

(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. releases Philadelphia Fed Survey for October. Consensus is for a reading of +0.5, improving from September's -1.9.

(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. Conference Board releases leading indicators for September. Economists expect a rise of 0.2 per cent after a dip of 0.1 per cent in August.

Verizon said its adjusted quarterly earnings were 64 cents a share, matching expectations.

Morgan Stanley saw a quarterly loss of 55 cents a share, compared to a profit of $1.14 a year ago. Shares are up close to 1 per cent in the premarket.

Philip Morris International reported adjusted earnings of $1.38 a share, in line with expectations.

Travelers Cos. reported net profit of $2.21 a share, beating forecasts of $1.61. Shares are up 2 per cent in the premarket.

Nokia said the fourth quarter with be challenging for its smart-device division. But adjusted third-quarter operating profit rose to €78-million compared with a €327-million loss in second quarter of 2012 and shares are up about 9 per cent in European trading.

Union Pacific said quarterly profit of $2.19 a share, in with expectations.

EBay Inc. reported strong quarterly results late Wednesday, but the e-commerce company gave a cautious forecast for the crucial holiday season amid a brewing price war between big retailers and rival Inc. Shares are down 0.4 per cent in the premarket.

American Express Co.'s third-quarter profit rose only marginally as card member spending growth remained muted for the second quarter in a row.

Other companies reporting today include Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., Capital One Financial Corp., E*Trade Financial Corp., Fifth Third Bancorp, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

Seven months after bidding $3.38-billion for Astral Media, BCE Inc. will find out at the close of markets this afternoon if the controversial union is going to receive the blessing of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission


Another stock market crash like 1987's is inevitable, writes MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert, who bases these sobering thoughts on recent academic research.

After a three-decade run, investment-grade U.S. corporate bonds have run out of room to generate any future double-digit returns. That's basically the conclusion of Bank of America Merrill Lynch credit strategist Hans Mikkelsen.

The advantages of speed trading are starting to dissipate.

Why emerging markets can handle lower commodity prices.

Why Google's Next tablet spells trouble for Apple's iPad Mini, iPod Touch.

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