Tuesday Morning Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories Moving Markets

Every morning when the U.S. equity markets wake up, there’s a fresh batch of news from around the world or a significant upcoming event to keep in mind for the day ahead. Pre-market activity is fairly reserved on Tuesday morning as investors hunker down for earnings season.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed down 0.86 percent, the Hang Sang closed down 0.94 percent, and the S&P/ASK 200 closed down 0.57 percent. European markets are posting minor gains ahead of the bell in New York.

Here are three stories that will influence the markets todayjobs

1) Euro-zone unemployment grew 0.1 points in November to a new all-time high of 11.8 percent. This was led by Spain, which hit a new high of 26.6 percent unemployment, and Greece, at 20 percent unemployment for the month. Austria had the lowest reading for November at just 4.5 percent. Germany, one of Europe’s largest economies, registered 5.4 percent unemployment.

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2) On the topic of the struggling euro-zone economy, Japan reportedly plans to weaken its own currency while helping the European recovery effort by using its foreign-exchange reserves to purchase bonds issued by the European Stability Mechanism and other euro-area financial authorities. The ESM sold 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of three-month bills with an average yield of -0.0324 percent at its first debt auction today.

3) It’s January, and that means earnings season. The fiscal soap opera in Washington — the President is now being “combative” in negotiations — combined with strong December business activity will serve as a backdrop to fourth-quarter results that will help set the mood for a still unsure market. Reuters reports that small business sentiment has recovered from a two-and-a-half-year low but that labor market forecasts remain downbeat following December’s mixed (flat) jobs numbers.

Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) gets the ball rolling with its earnings release today after the bell. (See our Alcoa Q4 sneak peak for a heads up, and four major earnings to watch out for this week.)

At 8:40 a.m.: S&P: 0.00%, Nasdaq: 0.00%, Dow: -0.38%.

Gold advanced slightly to $1,652.50 per ounce.

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