International stock markets were lackluster today as investors digested a fall in Chinese home prices and Japan's scramble to overcome its economic malaise. Futures point to a retreat on Wall street at this morning's opening. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell but remains above $74 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.
- Among the economic reports due later today, the Commerce Department releases housing starts for October and the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its interest-rate meeting last month. In London, the Bank of England explains its worries about stagnation in the European economy as it releases minutes of its October meeting. And Lowe's Co., Sears Holding Corp. and Target Corp. release quarterly financial results before the market opens.
- Chinese officials have imposed limits on growth in energy consumption aimed at making the country less dependent on coal. Under the State Council's development plan issued today, energy consumption by 2020 must be no more than 28 percent higher than the 2013 level. For coal specifically, the increase would be limited to 16 percent. The plan was released a week after the country announced it would stop the growth of its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 at the latest. China emits more greenhouse gases than any other country.
- Legislation aimed at forcing completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Texas has failed to make it through the Democratic-controlled Senate. The 59-41 Senate vote yesterday was one short of the 60 needed to clear the House-passed measure. Republicans are vowing to resurrect the controversial issue swiftly once they take control of both the House and Senate in January.
- BP is heading to a federal appeals court in its effort to oust the administrator of damage settlement claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The company filed notice yesterday that it plans to take its case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. BP has long complained about Patrick Juneau's administration of claims. It sought his removal by a federal judge in motions claiming that he had a conflict of interest because he once represented Louisiana in talks setting up the claims process and had pushed for favorable terms for those with claims.