- Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures dip on renewed Europe jitters

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures dropped Tuesday on renewed worries over European national debts as drug giants Pfizer and Merck both beat analyst estimates on earnings.

S&P 500 futures fell 6.3 points to 1,192.30 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 11.75 points to 2,015.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 46 points.


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The economics calendar features pending home sales for March, though economists note the report should be particularly strong due to the expiration of a tax credit. Factory orders data is also on tap.

Treasury Secretary Geithner will be testifying on bank reform efforts.

Overseas, Australian stocks dropped after the Reserve Bank of Australia made its third rate hike in a row and as a proposed tax continued to weigh on the resource sector. Tokyo was shut for a holiday.

Worries about sovereign debt weighed on European equities, with the Stoxx Europe 600 sliding 0.9% in late morning trade. Greece hired Lazard /quotes/comstock/13*!laz/quotes/nls/laz (LAZ 39.65, +0.99, +2.56%) for financial advice though the bank said a restructuring of debt "has never been an option to be considered."

The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3067, -0.0120, -0.9100%) was down 0.5% as well as the concerns over the Greek rescue package continue.

"The package as it now stands is certainly to be welcomed and may have assuaged market concerns had it been announced three to four months ago," said Michael Hart, a strategist at Citi. "But at this point, the situation has developed from a mere Greece-crisis into a full blown euro-zone sovereign crisis. And European policymakers continue to trail events in formulating their response."

A number of quarterly results were reported. Stock market laggards Pfizer /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 16.91, +0.19, +1.14%) and Merck /quotes/comstock/13*!mrk/quotes/nls/mrk (MRK 35.27, +0.23, +0.66%) both reported declining profits after making hefty mergers but also topped earnings estimates. Pfizer shares rose 1.5% in premarket trade while Merck wasn't yet active.

Interactive Data /quotes/comstock/13*!idc/quotes/nls/idc (IDC 32.99, -0.48, -1.43%) reached a deal to be purchased by private-equity groups Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus for $3.4 billion. Majority owner Pearson /quotes/comstock/13i!pso/quotes/nls/pso (PSO 16.31, +0.34, +2.13%) will receive $2 billion before tax from the deal.

U.S. stocks climbed strongly on Monday, recapturing much of Friday's sharp slide, as a reporting showing rising consumer spending as well as improving car sales helped equities recapture much of Friday's nosedive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 143 points, and the S&P 500 closes above the key 1,200 level in its best one-day showing since March 5.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.

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