The markets were mixed in Asia overnight. The Nikkei climbed 1.28 percent after three days of losses, which were punctuated by a particularly steep drop on Wednesday. Some component suppliers for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) were caught up in the massive sell-off that followed the tech company’s first-quarter fiscal 2013 results. Meanwhile, other exporters rose as the yen continued to weaken.
The Hang Seng fell 0.15 percent and the S&P/ASX 200 increased 0.47 percent. Brent crude fell 0.20 percent to $112.58 per barrel. In London, the FTSE 100 was up about 0.33 percent ahead of the opening bell in New York, while Germany’s DAX fell 0.17 percent and the STOXX 50 fell 0.21 percent.
U.S. Futures at 8:00 a.m: Dow: +0.04%, S&P: -0.21%, NASDAQ: -1.26%.
Here are three stories to keep an eye on:
1) “Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that, in 2012, the unionization rate of employed wage and salary workers was 11.3 percent. Among private sector employees, the rate was 6.6 percent,” said deputy secretary of the bureau Seth Harris in a statement. This is the lowest rate of union membership in 76 years.
The low rate is mostly the product of political anti-union efforts in industrialized states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. Union membership peaked in 1954 at 28.3 percent of the workforce, and saw its most-recent peak in 2008, when unions claimed 16.1 million members, or 12.4 percent of the work force. Recession hit highly-unionized sectors like manufacturing particularly hard. On average, union workers are paid more and receive better benefits, and Harris argues that they are critical to a strong middle class.