Rockets' red glare for stocks
Stocks set for shaky start as North Korea's missile tests bring geopolitical concerns back in focus.

NEW YORK ( -- North Korean missile launches could send stocks in a downward direction when U.S. markets open Wednesday.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, S&P and Nasdaq futures were moderately lower.


North Korea test-fired a missile Wednesday, the seventh in a 24-hour period, a NORAD spokesman told CNN Radio. This rocket, whose range was not determined, landed in the Sea of Japan 10 minutes after launch. ('s coverage)

The missile launches add even more global tension to the markets, already plagued by concerns about Iran's nuclear program and the continuing war in Iraq.

In overseas reaction to the launches, Tokyo's Nikkei index fell for the first time in five sessions and stocks in Europe were lower in morning trading.

"North Korea caused a bit of a selloff in Europe and Asia and may be a catalyst if investors are looking for reasons to sell," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co. "It's hard to say if we'll be able to shake that off."

Later in the session, the Commerce Department will report on May factory orders although many investors are focused on the June jobs report due later in the week.

Treasury prices were mostly lower, with the yield on the 10-year note rising to 5.17 percent from 5.16 late Monday.

Oil was mixed, with U.S. light crude futures down eight cents to $73.85 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 44 cents to $72.95.

In corporate news, the Big 3 automakers began reporting monthly U.S. sales figures Monday. Ford (Charts) said U.S. sales fell 7 percent in June, while DaimlerChrysler (Charts) said its U.S. vehicle sales fell 13 percent during the month. After the market close, General Motors (Charts) said its June sales sank 26 percent.

Renault and Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn is set to meet his counterpart at GM, Rick Wagoner, later this month in Detroit to discuss areas of potential cooperation, according to the Financial Times. (Full story.)

Atlantic City's casinos, which cannot operate without state regulators, have been ordered by the state's Casino Control Commission to close due to New Jersey's budget crisis.

Properties owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts (Charts), Harrah's Entertainment (Charts) and Hilton Hotels (Charts) as well as the Borgata, a joint venture by MGM Mirage (Charts) and Boyd Gaming (Charts) will all be affected. (Full story.)

In broker action, Merrill Lynch raised its second-quarter estimates on Google (Charts), citing strong search query trends and currency benefits.

And Citigroup raised its rating on McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. (Charts) to "buy" from "hold."

Stocks managed modest gains Monday as investors cheered a set of reports pointing to slowing economic growth on the heels of the 17th consecutive interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

U.S. markets were closed Tuesday for the Independence Day holiday.


Related: More on marketsTop of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?