US open: Slight fall in equities at the start of trading



LONDON (ShareCast) - The main US equity market averages are now registering small declines following the release of what at first glance seem to be a tad weaker than expected economic figures out Stateside.

The result of today's meeting of the European Central Bank's Governing council, and the drop in the single currency which has ensued, may also be weighing on sentiment.

That comes against the backdrop of a rather mixed news-flow on the corporate front.

Comparable store sales figures for the country's main retail chains have also come in ahead of analysts' expectations. Such is the case of figures out from the likes of: Macy's, Target (NYSE: TGT - news) and Gap (NYSE: GPS - news) .

Analysts at Wells Fargo (Other OTC: WFCNO - news) have downgraded Visa (NYSE: V - news) to market perform from outperform.

Initial weekly unemployment claims fell by 5,000 to 366,000 (Consensus: 360,000).

Non-farm productivity fell at an annualised rate of 2.0% in the fourth quarter, more than the 1.4% foreseen.

Consumer credit data for the month of December is due for release at 20:00.

Crude futures on the rise

10 year US Treasury yields are now rising by 7 basis points to the 1.96% mark.

Front month West Texas crude futures are now rising by 0.38% to the 96.99 dollar per barrel mark on the NYMEX.