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Before the bell: Market's taper tantrum subsides

The Before the Bell report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves in the premarket. Check back later for updates.

When the stock market has a taper tantrum, at least it doesn't last long. A day after minutes from the last Federal Reserve policy meeting, in October, suggested the central bank was closer than expected to start tapering its monthly bond purchases, stocks looked relatively stable worldwide.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average pointed to modest gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.9 per cent in overnight trading. And European stocks, reacting to Wednesday's Fed minutes, fell 0.5 per cent.

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In economic news, manufacturing in the euro zone expanded for a fifth straight month in November, which was in line with expectations. However, manufacturing activity in China slipped for the first time in four months, missing expectations. In the United States, economists are awaiting the release of weekly initial jobless claims, with expectations of 335,000.

It's a big day for big U.S. retailers, with several reporting earnings, and things are pretty ugly so far. Sears, Target and Dollar Tree are all off about 5 per cent in the premarket after their latest numbers came out. (See details below in our Stocks to Watch section.)

Meanwhile, watch gold: It had a terrible day on Wednesday, falling more than $30 (U.S.) an ounce, taking it below $1,245. In a report, Goldman Sachs analysts reiterated that they expect gold to continue to perform dismally in the months ahead, with a price target of $1,050 an ounce by the end of 2014. Gold so far today is down another 1 per cent.

Here's a closer look at what's going on this morning and what's to come.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 +0.20 per cent; Dow +0.26 per cent; Nasdaq +0.35 per cent; S&P Toronto +0.22 per cent

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Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.51 per cent

Shanghai composite index -0.03 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +1.92 per cent

London's FTSE 100 +0.03 per cent

Germany's DAX -0.34 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.45 per cent

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Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Jan) +0.33 per cent at $94.16 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) -1.01 per cent at $1,245.30 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) +0.27 per cent at $3.18 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 95.51 (U.S.), vs. 95.72 at Wednesday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.13 at 80.97

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.80 per cent, -0.01

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

U.S. jobless claims for last week fell 21,000 to 323,000, a little stronger than the reading of 335,000 that was expected.

The U.S. producer price index for October fell 0.2 per cent from September, matching the Street expectation. Excluding food and energy, the index rose 0.2 per cent, versus the expectation of a rise of 0.1 per cent.

U.S. preliminary Purchasing Managers' Manufacturing Index for November came in at 54.3, above Street forecasts for 52.3.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. releases the Philadelphia Fed Survey for November, forecast to fall to 15.5 from October's 19.8.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

The U.S. Treasury said it plans to sell its remaining 2.2 per cent stake in General Motors by the end of this year. GM shares are up 3.2 per cent in the premarket.

Suncor Energy said late Wednesday it plans to spend $1-billion more in 2014 than it expects in 2013. Canaccord Genuity commented this morning that the capital spending plans and likely cash flows mean Suncor will make a meaningful dividend hike next year, in addition to buying back more shares. Shares are down 0.2 per cent in the U.S. premarket in very thin volumes.

Gildan Activewear reported fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of 83 cents, matching the Street view, but it provided profit and sales guidance below Street forecasts. It also announced a 20 per cent dividend hike.

Target reported adjusted third-quarter EPS of 54 cents versus the 63 cents Street estimate. It also cut its adjusted full-year outlook to $4.59 to $4.69 a share from a prior projection of $4.70 to $4.90 a share. Shares are down 4.5 per cent in the premarket.

Sears Holdings lost $5.03 per share in its latest quarter, widening from a loss of $4.70 per share a year earlier. Shares are down nearly 5 per cent in the premarket.

Dollar Tree reported third-quarter EPS of 58 (U.S.) cents versus the Street view of 60 cents. Shares are down 5.8 per cent in the premarket.

Abercrombie & Fitch shares are down 2.4 per cent in the premarket after its quarterly sales missed Street forecasts and it projected a full-year EPS range of $1.40 to $1.50, disappointing some investors.

Other earnings today include: Tembec; Aruba Networks; Autodesk; Intuit; Pandora Media; The Gap

Hologic has adopted a shareholder rights plan after Carl Icahn bought a 12.6 per cent stake in the company.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Canaccord Genuity cut its target on Niko Resources to $1.50 (Canadian) from $4 and maintained a "sell" rating.

Desjardins Securities upgraded Whitecap Resources to "top pick" from "buy" and raised its price target to $14 (Canadian) from $13.25.

RBC Dominion Securities raised its price target on Open Text to $90 (U.S.) from $85 and maintained an "outperform" rating.

Raymond James initiated coverage on Agrium with an "outperform" rating and $106 (U.S.) price target.

CIBC World Markets raised its price target on Davis + Henderson to $31 (Canadian) from $27 and maintained a "sector performer" rating.

Goldman Sachs downgraded Philip Morris International to "neutral" from "conviction buy" and cut its price target to $95 (U.S.) from $103.

Jefferies downgraded Consolidated Edison to "underperform" from "hold" and cut its price target to $49 (U.S.) from $60.

Deutsche Bank upgraded Rayonier to "hold" from "sell" and maintained a $47 (U.S.) price target.

JPMorgan downgraded J.M. Smucker to "neutral" from "overweight" and cut its price target to $110 (U.S.) from $123.

FBR Capital initiated coverage on Facebook with an "outperform" rating and $60 (U.S.) price target.

FBR Capital initiated coverage on LinkedIn with a "market perform" rating and $214 (U.S.) price target.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING LINKS:

Goldman Sachs has released its its top ten market themes for 2014, which includes a warning that the S&P 500 could drop 10 per cent sometime during the year.

The hidden cost of bid-ask spreads for ETFs.

Some stocks in Vietnam are so popular that their supply of shares has been exhausted.

How Warren Buffett botched his purchase of Exxon shares.

In defense of buying 90-day Treasury bills.

Why you should not invest in stocks that hedge funds show they hold in 13F filings.

The rich make the same investment errors as the rest of us.

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For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities.

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