What you need to know before markets open

North American markets look set for a lower to flat open tracking losses in global markets.U.S. futures were little changed as the Dow Jones industrial futures declined 14 points to 18,189, the Nasdaq futures were down 3.8 points to 4,458 and the S&P 500 futures gave back 3.8 points to 2,106.1. The Canadian dollar gained 0.29 of a cent to 80.12 cents. U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter amid a slow pace of stock accumulation by businesses and a wider trade deficit, but the underlying fundamentals remained solid. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual pace, revised down from the 2.6 percent pace estimated last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. The economy grew at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter. Oil prices advanced after plunging almost $3 Thursday to the lowest level in a month as data continues to show large buildups of crude inventories in the United States. On Friday, the April crude contract in New York was up 80 cents to US$48.97 a barrel. Crude prices have moved generally lower this week as the Department of Energy said American inventories rose for a seventh, straight week, leaving supplies at their highest levels in 80 years. Also depressing oil and other commodity prices lately is a steadily strengthening U.S. currency. A stronger greenback makes commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies and depresses demand. Metal prices declined Friday with April gold down $2.10 to US$1,208 an ounce while May copper was down two cents to US$2.67 a pound. The TSX looks like it will struggle to end the week positive despite a run of generally positive earnings reports from most of the big Canadian banks this week. Energy stocks were shaping up to be the major decliner this week. However, the Toronto market has enjoyed a positive month, led by gains in base metal miners, tech companies and consumer discretionary stocks. Meanwhile, it’s a big day for transportation giant Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Its new larger CSeries jetliner was to make its maiden flight Friday morning with takeoff scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern time at Mirabel airport outside Montreal. The smaller CS100 began flight trials in September 2013 and the company says it will deliver its first CS100 in the second half of 2015. read more

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Ohio State womens track focusing on fixing minor things against tough competition

The Ohio State women’s track team is set to head to New York where the women are scheduled to compete in the Armory Collegiate Invitational against some of the nation’s top programs, including No. 15 South Carolina, No. 17 Mississippi State and No. 11 Kansas.This weekend, the Buckeyes are looking to continue forward after a successful meet last weekend and see the upcoming meet as an opportunity to work on the little things that need to be fixed.Associate head coach Rosalind Joseph said this week in practice the team has been working more on technique.“Now that we have gotten in a few meets, we are working on what we need to execute,” Rosalind said on the team’s work outside of conditioning. “Each person is starting to figure out what they need to work on individually.”Junior sprinter and hurdler Alexandria Johnson said she is looking forward to showcasing her hard work in practice on her start and technique when she runs the 60-meter hurdles.“Whether it is their finish, their start, blocks, or form, each person has their small change they need to make and that is what we are getting this weekend. (Fixing) those minor things before Big Ten (Championships),” Johnson said.Senior thrower Emily Taylor agreed, saying this weekend is a good chance for each person to figure what she needs to improve on going forward so the team can ultimately be prepared for the Big Ten Indoor Championship, which is set to start Feb. 27. She said this weekend is a “mental and physical” preparation for the big meet.The Armory Collegiate Invitational was recognized as the Division I “Meet of the Week” with the historic background and high level of competition it provides.“This is definitely an honor, to be taken to this meet,” Taylor said. “Not everyone gets to go so if you get on this plane, you should be ready to compete. It’s not something I take lightly.”With more than 100 teams set to participate, the competition is expected to be the toughest the Buckeyes have faced thus far in the season.Joseph said it will be good to see the team compete against national competition this weekend, which helps prepare them for the conference meet. She added that it is always good to line up against some teams they aren’t always used to seeing in the conference to get an idea of where they stack up against the top ranked programs.“Being in a large environment like New York, how the ladies prepare, how they handle themselves outside of normal conditions will be nice adversity to see how they are able to handle that test,” Joseph said.Joseph said the team is always striving to be better than they were the week prior so as long as everyone is competing and improving, then they are “headed in the right direction.”The invitational is set to begin Friday at 9 a.m. and continue through Saturday evening. read more

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