Investors can expect a sharply lower start to the stock market today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has lost 136 points, or 0.83%, in pre-market trading. After climbing back toward record highs, Wall Street looks set to follow the lead from global markets, which had a rough trading session overnight: Europe's index fell nearly 3% as the conflict in Ukraine escalated.
Next up on the economic calendar for today is a fresh reading on the manufacturing industry from the Institute for Supply Management. When it is released at 10 a.m EST, the ISM report should show a reading of 52%, indicating that the manufacturing sector expanded slowly in February.
Meanwhile, news is breaking this morning on several stocks that could see heavy trading in today's session, including Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS ) , Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) (NYSE: BRK-B ) , and Nu Skin (NYSE: NUS ) .
Stratasys today posted a 62% fourth-quarter sales gain. That bounce was thanks to what the 3-D printing company described as "strong demand across all product lines." At $155 million, revenue came in slightly ahead of Wall Street's expectations of $151 million. Profit improved to $0.50 a share, also ahead of estimates, as gross margin expanded to 60.2%. Stratasys' outlook for 2014 calls for sales to grow by about 40%. The stock has gained roughly 100% over the last year, but it is down 2.5% in pre-market trading.
Berkshire Hathaway announced over the weekend that fourth-quarter profit rose by 10% to $3,035 per Class A share. Per-share book value, a better measure of the business, improved by 18% as compared to the 32% gain that the S&P 500 logged in 2013. While that marks the fourth year out of the last five in which Berkshire's book value hasn't kept pace with the broader market, CEO Warren Buffett's long-term track record is amazing: book value has grown at an annual pace of 19.7% since 1965 -- double that of the S&P 500. Berkshire's stock is unchanged in pre-market trading.
Finally, Nu Skin this morning booked an 82% sales improvement for the fourth quarter, to $1 billion. Per-share earnings grew even faster, up by 108% to $2.02. However, the skin care company warned that its business activities are being disrupted by a regulatory review in China, its largest market, which will hurt profits in the current quarter. The impact of that review on Nu Skin's businesses is hard to project at this time, management said, and the company hopes to share more information at its next quarterly earnings announcement. The stock is down 5.8% in pre-market trading.
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