Asian markets sank on Wednesday, pressured by disappointing US data. The Nikkei posted its 5th straight loss, dropping 1.1% to 8680 , and the Kospi tumbled 1.7% to 1874. In greater China, the Hang Seng tanked 1.5% to 19145, its biggest loss in 6 weeks, while the Shanghai Composite slipped .3% to 2038.
European markets fared significantly better, ending mixed. The DAX gained .5% to 6965, the CAC40 rose .2% to 3406, while the FTSE declined .3% to 5658. Nokia shares plunged nearly 16% after announcing two new phones which failed to impress shareholders.
US indexes ended little changed, as investors waited on the sidelines ahead of Thursday’s ECB press conference. The Dow inched up 12 points to 13048, the Nasdaq slid .2% to 3069, and the S&P 500 eased .1% to 1403.
Fedex shares fell 2% to 85.80 after cutting its forecast for the current quarter.
Social networking shares rallied, led by Yelp’s 6.3% gain. Facebook jumped 4.8% and Zynga advanced 3.2%.
Treasuries and Commodities
10-year notes declined 6/32 to yield 1.59%, and 30-year notes fell 15/32 to yield 2.71%.
Natural gas dropped 1.9% to 2.801, while crude oil edged up .3% to 95.57.
Agricultural futures skidded, as wheat slumped 2.4%, while corn and sugar sank 1.7%.
The Euro rose .3% to 1.26, and the Pound edged up .2% to 1.5904. Commodity currencies declined, as the Australian Dollar and the Canadian Dollar both fell .4%. The Yen and Swiss Franc both settled little changed.
Worker productivity increased by 2.2%, more than the 1.8% forecast by analysts.
Thursday’s reports will include the ADP employment report, weekly unemployment claims, ISM non-manufacturing PMI, and crude oil inventories.
The Bank of England and ECB will issue their rate decisions, and the ECB is expected to announce a new bond buying initiative.
Earnings are due from Hovnanian, and Smith & Wesson.