Good morning. Here's what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mostly lower in overnight trading, with the Japanese Nikkei falling 0.9 percent and the Shanghai Composite falling 0.4 percent. European markets are trading higher, with Spain and Italy leading the way, up 0.7 percent. In the United States, futures point to a flat open.
- Australia's trade deficit unexpectedly widened to AUD 2.64 billion in November from AUD 2.44 billion the month before. The deficit was driven by a strong Aussie dollar, lower commodity prices, and strong imports, and now stands at its widest level since the global financial crisis began.
- German exports fell 3.4 percent in November from the month before, versus expected declines of 0.5 percent. German imports sank 3.7 percent versus expectations of a 0.5 percent gain. The numbers are a reminder of how economic crisis has permeated the eurozone, including its "core" countries.
- German factory orders slid 1.8 percent in November, below expectations of a 1.4 percent decline and reversing some of the 3.8 percent gain recorded in the previous month. ING Group economist Carsten Brzeski told Bloomberg, " The drop was to be expected after last month’s increase," and added, "w hile there will be an economic dip in the fourth quarter and the recovery will be very gradual, the outlook for Germany is not bad at all."
- Eurozone unemployment hit an all-time high of 11.8 percent in November. Youth unemployment also rose to a record 24.4 percent. Youth unemployment in Spain rose to a staggering 56.5 percent. These numbers highlight perhaps the biggest problem facing euro area governments today.
- Eurozone retail sales rose 0.1 percent in November, reversing three months of declines but missing consensus estimates of a 0.3 percent gain. Motor fuel sales were the biggest driver of the turnaround, up 1.2 percent.
- Global agriculture giant Monsanto posted a monster earnings report and its stock is surging in pre-market trading. After the closing bell, aluminum giant Alcoa unofficially kicks off earnings season with its own report.
- Hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert will assume the role of CEO at Sears after the company's top executive, Louis D'Ambrosio, stepped down, citing family reasons. Lampert, who was serving as chairman of Sears, has come under criticism for failing to help turn around the company to date.
- In the United States, consumer credit figures for the month of November will be released at 3 PM ET. Economists forecast that debt increased $12.75 billion in November after expanding $14.16 billion the month before. Follow the release LIVE on Business Insider >
- BONUS: Sportscasters Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger were captivated by Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, at last night's national championship game.
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