Stocks are lower today after China's manufacturing sector unexpectedly contracted.
S&P 500 futures are down about 0.3 percent and near their lows of the session. Most European indexes are down about 0.25 percent, though higher-risk countries such as Italy and Spain are positive. Asia fell overnight, led by a 1.5 percent selloff in Hong Kong.
The January flash Market/HSBC purchasing managers index for China declined to 49.5 from 50.5 last month, indicating that manufacturing has shrunk this month. Economists had forecast a 50.3 reading, above the 50 level that marks the line between contraction and growth.
The European data was more positive, however, with both services and manufacturing better than expected this month. Spain also said economic growth accelerated to 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter from 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
Today will be the busiest session of economic data this week in the United States as investors prepare for initial jobless claims, the FHFA house price index, existing home sales, and energy inventories.
The Nasdaq 100 is indicated down by less than 0.1 percent, a much narrower margin than the S&P 500's losses, after strong results yesterday afternoon from technology companies including Netflix, eBay, and F5 Networks. Polycom, a provider of communication products, is also indicated higher.
While NFLX and EBAY are exposed to consumers, FFIV and PLCM are especially notable because they reflect what appears to be an emerging shift toward improved enterprise spending on technology. Other important Nasdaq companies report this afternoon: Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Starbucks, Altera, and Intuitive Surgical.
Our proprietary researchLAB market scanner has also detected strength recently in domestic energy stocks such as shale-gas drillers, wildcat oil companies and providers of fracking services. Oil tankers, aluminum makers and light-emitting diodes have also stood out.
Baxter International rose almost 2 percent in the premarket after beating forecasts and issuing strong guidance for 2014. Lockheed Martin declined slightly after missing estimates. McDonald's, Southwest Airlines, and Union Pacific also release this morning.
Natural gas remains the standout in commodity markets, surging another 4 percent. Oils are mixed and copper fell more than three-quarters of a percent on the weak Chinese data. Gold and silver are rebounding about 1 percent and agricultural products are mostly higher.
In foreign-exchange markets, the euro is higher against most other currencies. The Japanese yen is also up slightly against the U.S. dollar. The Australian and Canadian dollars continue to fall.
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