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A solid day on the Nikkei failed to translate to gains on other Asian indexes. The Japanese index finished up 0.54%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell -0.67% and Korea's Kospi was off -0.04%. European markets were all lower, with France's CAC 40 trailing most at -0.89%. U.S. futures were pointing lower. It's a slower day for data today in advance of Thursday and Friday's big job numbers. International trade data for July prints at 8:30 am, and consensus is for a trade gap of -$39 billion against -$34.2 billion prior. We'll also get motor vehicle sales and ICSC-Goldman same-store sales. Weekly mortgage applications were up 1.3%, while refis gained 2%, both up from prior week's readings. The purchase index fell -2.4% to -0.4%. Early commodities trading saw most goods moving lower, with gold and NYMEX-traded crude both down more than -0.6%. The Senate Foreign Relations committee will likely vote today on a resolution authorizing President Obama to carry out a limited strike on Syria.  Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips writes this morning that a Syria strike could actually preempt the fight over a debt ceiling. "Beyond the direct implications of authorizing force, we believe this may also have two indirect implications: first, it increases the already high likelihood that Congress will approve a temporary extension of spending authority, avoiding a partial government shutdown. Second, it makes it slightly more likely that Congress will provide partial relief from the spending cuts under sequestration, though our base case is that they remain in place." Eurozone retail sales grew just 0.1% against 0.4% expected, and Eurozone composite PMI just missed expectations at 51.5 (analysts were expecting 51.7). But there was solid news out of the UK, where the services sector index ticked 60.5 against 60.2 prior, the highest level in more than six years. And the Eurozone's GDP is growing by 0.3%, confirming the preliminary reading. Portugal saw the largest Q/Q growth at 1.1%. LinkedIn shares took a dip in after-hours trading after the tech firm announced it would float an additional $1 billion in stock. The stock was off about 2% to $241. Some are convinced Nokia head Stephen Elop will take over Microsoft from Steve Ballmer, Reuters reports. "People are looking for Microsoft to go through some dramatic change," said Kevin Walkush, an analyst at Jensen Investment Management, which holds Microsoft shares. "He has a very good understanding of what happens at Microsoft, and he has made hard decisions in the face of big challenges. It's a pretty strong combination."
Silvio Berlusconi, who despite his recent conviction on tax fraud charges remains the leader of a crucial party in Italy's ruling coalition, said he was considering "pulling the plug" on the government if he is forced to give up his seat. As a result, Italy's FTSE MIB index is down nearly 2%. India's Rupee gained some ground after heavy intervention from India's central bank in the form of dollar sell-offs. The sovereign improved 0.6% to 67.23/25. Support also came from Raghuram Rajan's first day in office at the Reserve Bank of India. Radiation at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant are back to new highs, and the government has pledged $500 million to address the issue. The new readings are not related to a rather large quake that struck southern Japan over night.

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