MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures slip amid China lending halt

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures slipped Wednesday as investors balanced a wave of bank earnings with news of a Chinese clampdown on lending.

Off early lows as the bank reports were generally warmly received, S&P 500 futures fell 3 points to 1,142.70 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4.25 points to 1,885.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25 points.

U.S. stocks hit a new 15-month high Tuesday, spurred by the biggest jump in health-care shares since the summer as traders bet on the outcome of a Senate race with big implications for proposed health-insurance reforms. The bet -- at least, on who would win -- was proved correct as Republican Scott Brown won, so the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority.

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The mood in broader markets was less sanguine, after the China Securities Journal said some banks in the country were asked to stop granting new loans in January. The Shanghai Composite dropped 2.9%.

Other world markets also dropped though not as steeply: the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3% in Tokyo and the FTSE 100 fell 0.6% in London.

Commodities futures were down across the board, with oil futures losing more than $1 a barrel and gold futures down $11 an ounce.

Bank earnings rolled in, with Bank of America /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 16.32, +0.06, +0.37%) reporting a $5.2 billion quarterly loss and Morgan Stanley /quotes/comstock/13*!ms/quotes/nls/ms (MS 31.16, +0.78, +2.57%) earnings declining while Bank of New York Mellon /quotes/comstock/13*!bk/quotes/nls/bk (BK 29.53, +0.50, +1.72%) reported a profit surge to $595 million from $66 million and Wells Fargo /quotes/comstock/13*!wfc/quotes/nls/wfc (WFC 28.28, +0.20, +0.71%) swung to a $394 million profit.

The market received Wells Fargo most positively, with the bank rising 2.7% in pre-market trade.

Elsewhere, International Business Machines /quotes/comstock/13*!ibm/quotes/nls/ibm (IBM 134.14, +2.36, +1.79%) reported a stronger-than-forecast 9% rise in fourth-quarter profit. IBM shares fell 1.5% in pre-market trade.

Coach /quotes/comstock/13*!coh/quotes/nls/coh (COH 37.45, +0.66, +1.79%) , up 136% over 12 months, dropped sharply in pre-market trade. The company's second-quarter results rose a stronger-than-forecast 11%.

The economics calendar features producer price and housings starts data for December, both due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Euro weakness continued, with the shared currency falling 1% to $1.4145. Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds fell 3 basis points to 3.67%.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.


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