MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, February 26, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures flat as AIG tumbles

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures were flat Friday, as worries surrounding the economy's health, interest-rate policy and sovereign debt continue while American International Group reported a multi-billion-dollar loss.

S&P 500 futures rose seven-tenths of a point to 1,103.00 while Nasdaq 100 futures were down a half point to 1,813.00. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were unchanged.

U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday amid disappointing economic data and concerns over Greece, though leading indexes finished off the session's worst levels. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 53 points, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each lost 2 points.

Larry Hatheway, an economist at UBS, said policy uncertainty -- from China tightening to the Fed's discount-rate hike and the Greek debt woes -- aren't likely to be resolved quickly or easily.

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UBS advised a cautious stance -- a small overweight to high-yield credit; soft commodities, real estate and cash; a neutral allocation to global stocks; and underweight allocations to government bonds.

Some global economic news offered cheer, as the U.K. revised higher its fourth-quarter GDP view to 0.3% growth from 0.1% growth, while India reported slower-than-expected 6% growth but announced deficit-cutting measures that lifted stocks locally. See U.K. story. See India story.

The U.S. also will be reporting revised GDP figures for the fourth quarter, with consumer sentiment for February and existing-home-sales data for January.

American International Group /quotes/comstock/13*!aig/quotes/nls/aig (AIG 27.51, -0.48, -1.71%) dropped 9% as the New York insurer said its fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $8.9 billion from $61.6 billion. Its red ink swelled due to payments to reduce the New York Fed's credit facility as well as on the pending sale of Nan Shan Life, loss reserve strengthening and a valuation allowance charge for tax benefits that aren't presently recognizable.

Fluor /quotes/comstock/13*!flr/quotes/nls/flr (FLR 45.05, -0.23, -0.51%) fell 6% after the engineering group cut its earnings outlook.

The Gap /quotes/comstock/13*!gps/quotes/nls/gps (GPS 20.39, +0.10, +0.49%) rose 4% after the retailer said its 2010 earnings would be stronger than the market expected as it said it would repurchase $1 billion of stock.

The euro was back in favor, hovering around $1.36, and oil and gold futures made modest gains.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.


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