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Pre-Market: Crimea Invasion Drags US Futures Down; China PMI Numbers Are Mixed


Off a 2.5-year high, eurozone factory output continues to grow.

US futures fell sharply Monday morning as Russia's military advanced into the Ukraine and the threat of Western sanctions over the weekend sent Asian markets tumbling overnight.

Before the opening bell, Dow Jones (INDEXDJC:.DJI) futures were down .69% at 16,195. Futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) declined .81% to 1842.50 after the index hit a record high last Thursday. Futures on the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) slid .83% to 3,664.50.

China's HSBC manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) sunk to a seven-month low of 48.5 in February, one point below the previous month. The official manufacturing PMI dropped too, from 50.5 in January to 50.2 last month. In contrast, the official non-manufacturing PMI lifted to a three-month high of 55.0 in February. HSBC will release a services PMI on Wednesday. Diverging numbers make it hard to a get a read on the strength of China's economy.

Eurozone factory output grew last month, although at a slower rate than January's 2.5-year high. However it's the first time in nearly three years that the group's four biggest economies all showed output growth. Once again Germany led the expansion, while France made up for past deficiencies. Spain and Italy also made a strong recovery. Markit's eurozone PMI read 53.2 for February, lower than January's 54.0.

February US auto sales will be released throughout the day by the world's "Big 8" automakers, including Ford (NYSE:F), GM (NYSE:GM), Toyota (NYSE:TM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Nissan (OTCMKTS:NSANY), Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VLKAY), Kia/Hyundai, and Chrysler. Industry analysts predict sales will suffer because of this winter's polar vortex. Total car and pickup truck sales are expected to be about 1.2 million units, up nearly 20% from January. As of this writing, Nissan is the only automaker to release numbers, selling 115,00 units last a month -- a near-16% jump from the same time last year.

In other automobile news, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled CarPlay, an integrated voice-control system for cars, at the Geneva Motor Show today. Originally announced as its "iOS in the Car" initiative last year, CarPlay will be built in to vehicles from partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.

On Saturday, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) released its annual letter to shareholders; it stated that fourth-quarter earnings rose 10% to nearly $5 billion. The growth was driven by gains its insurance, rail, and energy businesses.

The Commerce Department reports on US construction spending in January at 10 a.m. In December 2013, construction spending increased .1% after a .8% jump in November. Expectations are that spending will tick down .1% in January.

The Institute of Supply Management's February manufacturing index is expected at 10 a.m.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) will hold a policy meeting. Last week's eurozone inflation numbers, Germany's strong retail sales, and the escalation of the the Crimean conflict are all expected to drive strategy decisions.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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