MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures drift after Wednesday's tumble

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock market futures drifted lower on Thursday as investors face earnings from big names such as Goldman Sachs and Xerox, as well as economic reports after strong growth data out of China.

Futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.5 points to 1,133.50, while those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 15 points at 10,557.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 were down 3.25 points at 1,863.75.

On Wednesday, the dollar soared while stock markets and commodities took a hit as investors sought safety on fears of rising borrowing costs globally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a 122.28-point decline, the biggest drop since December 17. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 Index fell by 1.3% and 1%, respectively.

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Investors focused on a possible cutback in lending by Chinese banks and the hefty price that Greece may have to meet to bolster its troubled economy.

On Thursday, U.S. markets will have to contend with fresh data that showed China's economy expanded 10.7% in the fourth quarter, slightly ahead of expectations, fuelling worries over further tightening measures. China's consumer-price index rose 1.9% in December, while the monthly producer-price index also ended a year-long declining trend to grow 1.7%, with both well above forecasts.

Asia markets saw a muted reaction overnight, closing marginally lower.

"Markets in Asia haven't really reacted notably to the data but in recent days we have seen a delayed Western market response to news out of China so it's certainly one to watch today," said analysts at Deutsche Bank.

Economic data scheduled in the U.S. for Thursday includes weekly jobless claims and December producer prices, both at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Away from data and key earnings are on tap for Thursday. A slew of financial companies will report ahead of the opening bell, including Goldman Sachs /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 167.79, +0.93, +0.56%) Comerica /quotes/comstock/13*!cma/quotes/nls/cma (CMA 33.57, +0.53, +1.60%) , Fifth Third /quotes/comstock/15*!fitb/quotes/nls/fitb (FITB 11.31, -0.08, -0.70%) , Capital One /quotes/comstock/13*!cof/quotes/nls/cof (COF 43.02, +0.01, +0.02%) , Legg Mason /quotes/comstock/13*!lm/quotes/nls/lm (LM 31.43, +0.64, +2.08%) and KeyCorp /quotes/comstock/13*!key/quotes/nls/key (KEY 6.96, +0.20, +2.96%) .

Xerox /quotes/comstock/13*!xrx/quotes/nls/xrx (XRX 8.89, -0.13, -1.44%) , UnitedHealth Group /quotes/comstock/13*!unh/quotes/nls/unh (UNH 34.55, -0.58, -1.65%) , and airlines such as Continental /quotes/comstock/13*!cal/quotes/nls/cal (CAL 20.62, +0.19, +0.93%) and Southwest Airlines /quotes/comstock/13*!luv/quotes/nls/luv (LUV 11.33, +0.03, +0.27%) will also report.

Deficit fears continued to drag Greek stocks south, with banks leading the decline after a newspaper reported that Greece's budget deficit could be revised up to between 13% to 15% of GDP, though other European indexes made slight rises

The dollar continued to gain ground against the euro, which wasn't helped by an unexpected slowdown in the expansion in Europe's service and manufacturing industries in January.

Gold futures were slipping, down $9.50 to $1,103.10 an ounce, while crude oil futures were down 7 cents at $77.67 a barrel.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.


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