Stocks are indicating a modestly lower open on Wednesday after suffering considerable weakness in the previous session. Some economic news is in focus before the market open as well as continued earnings releases.
On the economic front, the Labor Department said its consumer price index edged down 0.1 percent in March following a 0.4 percent increase in February. The modest decrease came as a somewhat of a surprise to economists, who had expected prices to edge up 0.1 percent.
Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index rose 0.2 percent for the third consecutive month. Economists had been expecting a 0.1 percent increase in core prices.
At the same time, the New York Fed issued its regional manufacturing report for April, with its index of activity in the sector coming in at negative 14.7 compared to the previous reading of negative 38.2. Analysts were looking for a reading of negative 35.0.
The Federal Reserve's industrial production report is due out at 9:15 am ET. Economists estimate that industrial production declined 0.9 percent in March, while capacity utilization is expected to come in at 69.6 percent.
Additionally, the Fed is due to release its Beige Book report at 2 pm ET. The report, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions from each of the 12 Fed districts, is released about two weeks before the monetary policy meeting is held.
On the corporate front, shares of Intel (INTC) are moving lower in pre-market trading after the semiconductor giant reported first quarter revenues of $7.1 billion, down 26 percent from the year-ago period. Analysts expected revenues of $6.98 billion for the quarter.
Intel's gross margins contracted to 45.6% due to factory underutilization charges and startup costs. Although the company failed to officially issue revenue guidance for the second quarter, it said it expects sequentially flat revenues for the second quarter.
Meanwhile, UBS AG (UBS) is estimating that it will report a loss attributable to shareholders of almost 2 billion Swiss francs in the first quarter of 2009.
The company is blaming the loss on a negative contribution totaling about 3.9 billion Swiss francs due to losses on previously disclosed illiquid risk positions, credit loss expenses, and valuation adjustments on the last positions transferred to a fund controlled by the Swiss National Bank.
UBS also said it expects to reduce the number of its employees to about 67,500 in 2010. At the end of March, UBS employed 76,200 people in over 50 countries.
After ending Monday's trading mixed, stocks saw substantial weakness on Tuesday, as traders reacted to disappointing retail sales data and largely shrugged off some optimistic comments from President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke.
The major averages all ended the day firmly in negative territory after ending Monday's trading on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow added to the modest loss it posted in the previous session, ending the day down nearly 140 points.
Crude oil futures are edging up $0.06 to $49.47 a barrel after receding $0.69 to $49.41 a barrel on Tuesday. Gold futures, which fell $3.80 to $892 an ounce in the previous session, are currently up $4.10 at $896.10 an ounce.
Among currencies, the U.S. dollar is trading at 99.37 yen after it fell to 98.9705 yen on Tuesday following the release of the weak U.S. retail sales data for March. Against the euro, the dollar is currently valued at $1.3173.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. While the markets in Hong Kong and China closed higher, notable weakness was visible in Japan and South Korea.
The major European markets are currently trading lower, with the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index receding 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is posting a 0.4 percent loss.
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