Wall Street remained nervous Wednesday morning after aluminum giant Alcoa kicked of earnings season with a troubling result, raising fears that the global recession may hurt corporate bottom lines more than once feared.
US stocks have been on the defensive for two straight sessions, indicating that the steam may have come out of a recent bear market rally.
The major averages all posted steep losses on Tuesday, with the Dow closing down 186.29 points or 2.3 percent at 7,789.56, while the Nasdaq closed down 45.10 points or 2.8 percent at 1,561.61 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.93 points or 2.4 percent at 815.55.
As of 6 am ET this morning, the S&P Futures were down 7 points, the Nasdaq Futures were down 7 points, and the Dow Futures were down 77 points.
Asian stocks were hammered overnight, with Tokyo's Nikkei dropping 2.6 percent and the Hang Seng of Hong Kong easing 3 percent.
In European intraday dealing, the FTSE of the UK was down 0.8 percent, the DAX of Germany fell 0.8 percent, and the CAC of France was off 1 percent.
Comments from a top official at the Federal Reserve did little to help investor confidence this morning. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told a Tokyo audience that the US economic situation was grim, and predicted that unemployment may rise to 10 percent by the end of the year.
Tuesday after the bell, Alcoa reported a $497 million net loss for the first quarter, hurt by the impact of the economic downturn on its core industrial and commercial markets as well as an historic decline in aluminum prices. The company's quarterly loss per share also came in worse than what analysts had predicted.
Home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY: News ), Tuesday said its fourth quarter profit declined from last year, hurt by worsening economic conditions. The company's quarterly earnings, however, exceeded analysts' expectations as well as its own estimates. Following the news, the company's shares gained more than 15% in the after-hours trading.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ: News , STZ-B), a producer and marketer of beverage alcohol products, is slated to announce its fourth-quarter results before the market opens on Wednesday. The results are expected to reflect the impact of weak UK and Australian businesses and global economic crisis.
Tuesday, according to the Wall Street journal, bankrupt Canadian network solutions company Nortel Networks Corp. (NT: News ,NT.TO: News ) has received an offer from Nokia Siemens Networks to buy key assets. Nokia Siemens reportedly sees this as an opportunity to expand its foothold in the U.S. wireless market. Both the companies have declined to comment on the report.
On the economic front, the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly mortgage applications report will be released at 7 am ET, while the Commerce Department's wholesale inventories report for February is due at 10 am ET.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of the latest policy-setting meeting at 2 pm ET.
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