- Pre-Market Indications

Friday, May 21, 2010

Indications: After bashing, U.S. stock futures drop further

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software Alert Email Print

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures declined Friday after the previous session's pounding that sent markets into a correction territory as worries over economic growth persist.

After early and modest gains, S&P 500 futures fell 9.1 points to 1,060.90 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 15.5 points to 1,785.00.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 81 points.

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U.S. stocks and a range of assets across the globe tumbled on Thursday, hit by a combination of weak economic data, regulatory concerns and debt worries in the U.S., China and Europe. Breaching of key technical levels added to the decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 376 points, or 3.6%, to its worst close since Feb. 10, putting the blue-chip index over 10% below its April 26 high.

"There really wasn't a silver lining in yesterday's action," said Marc Pado, a strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. "Investors are moving to cash and will be content to wait for better signs of what will happen in Europe."

Albert Edwards, a London-based strategist at Societe Generale, said markets aren't gloomy enough.


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HIGHLIGHTS • German lower house backs EU aid plan • Record April deficit greets new U.K. government • British Airways sees second straight loss • Euro-zone PMI signals slower pace in May • LSE swings to profit, competition hits revenue • Rio Tinto gets iron-ore deals with Asia ex-China • Japan exporters take brunt of strong-yen fears • Spain's stocks face a summer of discontent

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"Amid all the recent euro-related turbulence, the markets have not focused enough attention on the rapidly vanishing core CPI inflation in the U.S. and euro zone. With both moving below 1%, we are now only one cyclical mishap from joining Japan in outright deflation," he said.

A decline in German business climate and a three-month low for a euro-zone manufacturing purchasing managers index didn't help turn sentiment in Europe. See related story.

The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2568, +0.0098, +0.7859%) traded over $1.25 and is substantially above lows from earlier in the week. The lower house of Germany's parliament, as expected, approved its contribution to the 750 billion euro ($946 billion) European Union-International Monetary Fund, and traders are awaiting a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels to see if other European nations follow Germany with a short-selling ban that roiled markets earlier this week.

The banking sector will be in the spotlight after the U.S. Senate approved financial reform legislation. The fate of several key provisions, notably the derivatives activities of banks, still need to be hashed out when the House and Senate meet to combine their respective bills. Bank of America /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 15.30, -1.01, -6.19%) slipped 1.2% in premarket trade.

Of companies in the spotlight, Dell /quotes/comstock/15*!dell/quotes/nls/dell (DELL 14.32, -0.66, -4.41%) late Thursday reported a 52% profit jump, though the group's margin performance disappointed some analysts. Dell shares fell 3.6%.

"In our view, the fiscal first-quarter [gross margin] performance stands to frustrate investors in the near term as a potential reversion to a 17% to 18% gross margin range is contemplated," said J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz.

The tech sector may also see pressure from outlooks from Brocade Communications Systems /quotes/comstock/15*!brcd/quotes/nls/brcd (BRCD 5.87, -0.19, -3.14%) and /quotes/comstock/13*!crm/quotes/nls/crm (CRM 79.03, -2.57, -3.15%) , both of which dropped sharply in premarket trade.

Abbott Laboratories /quotes/comstock/13*!abt/quotes/nls/abt (ABT 46.48, -1.46, -3.05%) said it's going to buy a generics drug-making unit from India's Piramal Healthcare for $3.7 billion.

Overseas, the Nikkei 225 ended 2.5% lower in Tokyo, while the Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 2.6%, with much of the losses coming as traders in New York began to arrive.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.

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