Investors are still worried about a sharp drop in China's exports, which raises concerns that the world's second-largest economy is slowing. The three major U.S. stock indexes remain down for the week. Yesterday, the S&P 500 index added half a point to close at 1,868. The Nasdaq gained 16 points to 4,323. Only the Dow ended lower. It fell 11 points to 16,340. Futures point to modest opening gains this morning.
- International stock markets are mixed today with resurfaced concerns about China's economy after lackluster factory production and other data. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $98 a barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
- The government will release the weekly jobless claims number today. Also scheduled for release today are retail sales data for February and January's business inventories. And Freddie Mac will report the weekly mortgage rates. Later today, the Treasury Department will release the federal budget for February.
- China's premier says the country will keep this year's economic expansion strong enough to create new jobs but will emphasize market-opening reform and cleaning up smog-choked cities over hitting its official growth target. Li Keqiang's comments today reinforced the ruling Communist Party's pledge to shift to cleaner, more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption and service industries instead of trade and investment.
- Air pollution in China is going to mean a financial benefit to some Panasonic employees living there. The Japanese electronics maker is making the payment part of a package negotiated annually for employees in China who belong to the Panasonic union. Panasonic says the compensation is not offered to locally hired staff.