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The Tuesday Market Minute

  • Global stocks pull away from multi-month highs as investors book profits in the strongest start to any trading year since 1991.
  • China slashes 20190 growth forecasts, but steps-up pledge to add $300 billion in new stimulus, as trade war impact and weak domestic demand put GDP on weakest pace in three decades.
  • European services growth offsets manufacturing slump, but modest GDP prospects will test ECB's mettle later this week in Frankfurt.
  • U.S. equity futures point to a flat open on Wall Street, despite stronger-than-expected earnings from the retail sector and ahead of February PMI and NFIB business optimism data.

Market Snapshot

U.S. stocks look set to open modestly higher Tuesday, following the biggest single-day decline in nearly a month, as investors continue to weigh the prospect of a comprehensive U.S.-China trade deal against fragile global economic growth.

China, in fact, illustrated that concern overnight when Premier Li Keqiang slashed growth estimates for the world's biggest economy to a range of 6% to 6.5%, down from 6.5% and the weakest prediction in three decades, as the impact of weakening domestic demand and a damaging trade spat with Washington continues to take its toll.

Government officials, however, pledged to accelerate plans for around $300 in tax cuts and spending support, extending gains for both the Shanghai Composite and CSI 300 domestic benchmarks.

Investors were unable to hold those gains through the European session, however, even as a private reading of economic activity showed a modestly stronger-than-expected reading for the region's services sector over the month of February, offsetting the first manufacturing slump in five years.

European stocks drifted 0.3% lower by mid-day in Frankfurt, however, as investors eyed only modest gains in U.S. equity futures and took profits from a market that has risen nearly 11% since the start of the year.

U.S. stocks, in that respect, are off to one of their best starts to any year in several decades, even with Monday's 200 point decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average  and look set to add incremental value to a market that is nearing the ten-year anniversary of its current bull run, which officially began on March 9, 2009.

Contracts tied to the Dow are indicating a 1 point opening bell gain while those linked to the S&P 500 , which has added 11.4% since New Year's Day, are suggesting a 0.2 point bump higher for the broader benchmark.

Target Corp. (TGT)  shares were an early market mover, rising more than 6% in pre-market trading, after the big-box retailer posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Tuesday after a solid holiday shopping season that saw increased foot traffic and same stores sales.

Kohl's Corp. (KSS)  shares were also firmly higher in pre-market trading after it posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, and said it would buyback as much as $500 million in shares this year, as the department store chain notched solid same store sales over the holiday period.

Global oil prices were modestly stronger Tuesday, although gains were capped by a stronger U.S. dollar and reports that a major Libyan oil field had re-started operations, as crude investors reacted to plans for deeper economic stimulus from China, the world's biggest energy importer.

Brent crude contracts for May delivery, the global benchmark, were marked 16 cents higher from their Monday close and changing hands at $65.83 per barrel while WTI contracts for April were seen 23 cents higher at $56.82 per barrel.