Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Tuesday, March 5:

 

 

1. China Cuts 2019 GDP Growth Target

China said it was targeting economic growth of 6.0% to 6.5% in 2019, down from the 6.6% growth reported last year that was already the lowest in decades.

"The environment facing China's development this year is more complicated and more severe," Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of the annual meeting of China's parliament. "There will be more risks and challenges that are either predictable or unpredictable and we must be fully prepared for a tough battle."

Beijing also offered more stimulus, including cuts in taxes and social security fees, increases in infrastructure investment and lending to small firms.

 

 

 

 

2. Target Reports Earnings

Target (NYSE:TGT) is one of the last notable names slated to report quarterly results, as the fourth-quarter earnings season winds down.

The retailer is expected to report earnings of $1.52 per share on revenue of $22.92 billion, according to analysts polled by Investing.com, when it reports before the opening bell.

Investors will be closely watching the results for progress in its efforts to boost online sales in particular.

Other notable companies reporting results today include Kohl's (NYSE:KSS), Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST), and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN).

 

 

 

3. ISM Services Data

After a recent batch of disappointing economic reports, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) survey on service sector activity will offer fresh insight into the strength of the economy.

The survey, due for release at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT), is forecast to rise to 57.3 in February from the previous month's reading of 56.7.

Today's economic calendar also features the latest new home sales report, as well as federal budget figures.

There will also be some Fed speakers to pay attention to. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin are all set to deliver speeches throughout the day.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was at 96.68, not far from the previous day's two-week high.

In the bond market, U.S. Treasury prices dipped, pushing yields a tad higher across the curve, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising to 2.73%.

 

 

 

4. U.S. Futures Point to Higher Open

U.S. stock futures pointed to a marginally higher open, as the Chinese government's reduced growth target reinforced concerns about a global economic slowdown.

At 5:35 AM ET (10:35 GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures were up 45 points, or about 0.2%, the S&P 500 futures rose 4 points, or around 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 13 points, or roughly 0.2%.

Elsewhere, European stocks hovered around the flatline, with the pan-regional STOXX 600 index struggling to extend a three-day rally that saw it hit five-month highs a day earlier.

Earlier, markets in Asia closed mostly lower, but shares in mainland China managed to buck the regional trend thanks to promises of more stimulus from Beijing.

 

 

 

5. Oil Prices Tick Lower Ahead of API Report

In commodities, oil prices ticked lower ahead of the release of fresh weekly data on U.S. commercial crude inventories.

The American Petroleum Institute is due to release its weekly report for the week ended March 1 at 4:30PM ET (21:30 GMT), amid expectations of a small gain of about 388,000 barrels.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 40 cents, or 0.7% at $56.20 a barrel.

Meanwhile, international Brent crude oil futures shed 48 cents, or 0.7%, to $65.19 per barrel. Reports said that Libya's biggest oilfield had resumed production with an initial output target of 80,000 barrels per day.

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019
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