FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
U.S. markets were poised for a lower open Tuesday as lingering investor concerns over Ireland's financial situation was further compounded by escalating military tensions in the Korean peninsula.
Asian markets were rattled overnight on reports that North Korea had fired several rounds of artillery shells at South Korean sites near the two countries' western borders, resulting in South Korea returning fire. It's the latest in rising tensions between the two long rivals, especially as North Korea transitions power to Kim Jong Il's son.
South Korea's Kospi index dropped 0.8% overnight while Hong Kong's stock market fell 2.7% and China's Shanghai Composite lost 2%. The South Korean won dropped sharply against the major world currencies.
European markets reacted negatively to the news out of Korea, but also were influenced yet again by developments out of Ireland. According to media reports, Prime Minister Brian Cowen is facing tougher-than-expected resistance to passing a budget full of austerity measures through Parliament.
Cowen is also now facing the possibility of being forced to call an election in early 2011, which could add further uncertainty to Ireland's ability to cut spending enough in order to receive the financial aid the EU and IMF are offering.
The news pushed the euro down nearly 0.7% in overnight trading.
It's another somewhat quiet day for U.S. markets, with only a few economic reports due out this morning. Volumes are also winding down ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Futures reacted little to a Commerce Department report that showed the U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 2.5% annualized pace in the third quarter. That figure was revised upward from the 2% previously reported and was higher than the 2.4% growth expected by economists.
In commodities, oil was down 0.7% to $81.17 a barrel and gold was up 0.25% to $1,361.20 a troy ounce.
Clothing store chain J. Crew (NYSE:JCG) is nearing an agreement to sell itself to private equity investors for about $3 billion, or $43.50 in cash, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. J. Crew would be taken over by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, with each holding a 75% and 25% stake in the company respectively.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Gilead Science's (NASDAQ:GILD) Truvada HIV medication could cut the risk of transmission from HIV-positive patients to non-infected patients by up to 90%, a major breakthrough in the area of AIDS-related medications.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.87% to 5631.64, France's CAC 40 fell 1.4% to 3765.50 and Germany's DAX lost 0.7% to 6773.39.
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 2.7% to 22896.10 and China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.94% to 2828.28. Japan's markets were closed for a national holiday.