Day Ahead: Wall Street Takes a Step Back

 | Mar 12, 2014 | 8:32 AM EDT
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Wall Street was preparing for another down day in the markets Wednesday morning. U.S. futures were sliding, in a sign that Tuesday's selloff may not be over. The weakness reached overseas to European and Asian markets, which responded negatively to continuing fears of slowing growth in China and an ensuing slowdown in the global economy.

Meanwhile, with little economic data to mull over today, U.S. companies were filling the news gap. Shares of Action Alerts PLUS holding General Motors (GM) could be under pressure when the bell rings: The Justice Department has reportedly launched a criminal investigation of the automaker's handling of its massive recall for faulty ignition switches.

And Tesla (TSLA) shares face an uphill journey after New Jersey banned direct sales of its electric cars statewide.

Men's Wearhouse (MW) finally sewed up a deal to buy up rival men's clothier Jos. A. Banks (JOSB) Tuesday after months of haggling, and then disappointed investors by delivering a much wider loss in the fourth quarter than analysts had expected.

Among earnings reports before the bell, Express (EXPR) shares tumbled by 15% in premarket trading after the retailer missed earnings estimates by $0.02 per share and issued disappointing guidance.

Late Tuesday, casino operator Caesars Entertainment (CZR) booked a wider loss for the fourth quarter; snack maker Diamond Foods (DMND) bested earnings calls by a penny; and electronic payment company VeriFone (PAY) surpassed profit and sales estimates, giving the stock a nearly 10% premarket boost. Look for results from home furnisher Williams-Sonoma (WSM) after the bell.

Earlier Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers' Association said home loan applications fell just 1% last week, though the overall index is down 17% from where it was at this time a year ago.

In analyst moves, Deutsche Bank downgraded shares of AIG (AIG) to Hold and upgraded VeriFone (PAY) to Hold, while Barclays cut Urban Outfitters (URBN) to Equal Weight.

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