As Syrian peace talks got underway on Wednesday, many skeptics said the meeting would have little impact as several key players will not be included in the negotiations.
Most Syrian rebels on the ground have snubbed the peace conference, leaving only an opposition group which has been living in exile to attend. Iran is also being left out of the negotiations despite the nation's involvement in helping back President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
A number of war crimes have allegedly been committed by Assad's government, adding another layer of difficulty to the talks.
In other news around the markets:
The ongoing anti-government protests in Ukraine dragged on this week as angry Ukranians called for President Viktor Yanukovych's removal from office. The protests turned violent over the weekend as protestors threw stones and launched fireworks at riot police in the nation's capital. The US cyber security firm CrowdStrike announced that it had evidence that the Russian government had spied on American, European and Asian companies in order to help the nation's industries maintain their competitiveness. The firm says several energy and technology firms were the victims of cyber attacks which resulted in the loss of intellectual property. A state of emergency has been declared in and around Thailand's capital, Bangkok, as the country suffers through protests which have turned violent over the past two months. On Wednesday, a pro-government leader was shot and wounded in his arm and leg in the northeastern town of Udon Thani. Europe's earnings season has gotten off to a poor start as several of the region's largest companies admit to struggling to cope with the bloc's sluggish, uneven economic recovery. Companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Deutsche Bank and SAP all warned investors about low profit expectations in the short term.
Asian markets were mostly higher, the Japanese NIKKEI was up 0.16 percent, China's Shanghai composite gained 2.16 percent and the Shenzhen composite rose 2.59 percent. The South Korean KOSPI was up 0.33 percent and the Hang Seng index gained 0.21 percent.
European markets were up across the board, the UK's FTSE rose 0.34 percent and the eurozone's STOXX 600 gained 0.29 percent. The Spanish IBEX gained 0.47 percent and Italy's MIB rose 0.61 percent.
Brent futures for March delivery gained 0.51 percent but WTI futures were flat. Gold lost 0.18 percent and silver was down 0.28 percent. Industrial metals were mixed with aluminum down 0.44 percent and zinc up 0.60 percent.
The euro lost 0.15 percent against the dollar and the pound was down 0.11 percent against the greenback. The dollar fell 0.02 percent against the yen and 0.81 percent against the Australian dollar.
Notable earnings released on Tuesday included:
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $1.24 on revenue of $18.40 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.19 on revenue of $17.56 billion. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.66 on revenue of $31.10 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.45 on revenue of $30.04 billion. The Travelers Company (NYSE: TRV ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $2.68 on revenue of $6.74 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $2.22 on revenue of $5.70 billion. Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.65 on revenue of $9.08 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.28 on revenue of $8.60 billion. Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL ) reported fourth quarter EPS of $0.90 on revenue of $7.64 billion compared to last year's EPS of $0.63on revenue of $7.29 billion.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X ) gained 2.17 percent in premarket trade after falling 8.57 percent over the past week. Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL ) gained 1.37 percent in premarket trade after losing 1.28 percent on Tuesday. Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA ) rose 0.82 percent in premarket trade after gaining 17.54 percent over the past week. Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL ) gained 0.69 percent in premarket trade after rising 3.25 percent on Tuesday. International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM ) lost 3.20 percent in premarket trade after rising 1.35 percent over the past five days. Oracle Corp (NYSE: ORCL ) fell 1.10 percent in premarket trade after losing 0.26 percent on Tuesday.
Notable earnings releases expected on Wednesday include:
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $3.90 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.55 on revenue of $3.40 billion. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.65 on revenue of $1.17 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $0.13 on revenue of $945.24 million. United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.52 on revenue of $17.09 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $1.04 on revenue of $16.44 billion. Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC ) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $2.07 on revenue of $3.84 billion, compared to last year's EPS of $2.09 on revenue of $3.82 billion.
Wednesday's economic calendar will include the US Redbook, the British unemployment rate, Spain's trade balance and Chinese manufacturing PMI.
Tune into Benzinga's pre-market info show with Dennis Dick and Joel Elconin here .
(c) 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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