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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Indications: Growth worries weigh on U.S. stock futures

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to opening losses Thursday on worries about the economy, retaining losses after the release of jobless claims and durable-goods orders data.

Though off lows of the session, S&P 500 futures fell 5.7 points to 1,081.50 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 11.5 points to 1,862.50. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 44 points.

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A combination of weak housing data and cautious remarks from the Fed on Wednesday led to slight moves for major stock market indexes, a fall in the dollar and gains for Treasury bonds.

"Unless the U.S. extend the [home buyer tax] credits (quite possible), the next two or three months of U.S. housing data will be a fascinating case study of how private demand looks in the post credit crisis world," said Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank.

Builder Lennar /quotes/comstock/13*!len/quotes/nls/len (LEN 15.08, +0.34, +2.31%) , which rose in premarket trade after reporting a quarterly profit, said orders fell 10% in May after the credit expired.

After a spell of weak reports from the housing sector, data released Thursday showed a 19,000 drop in jobless claims and the first decline in durable orders in six months. The durables decline wasn't as steep as forecast.

Overseas, credit-default swaps on Greece rose to a record high.

Miners with activities in Australia including BHP Billiton /quotes/comstock/13*!bhp/quotes/nls/bhp (BHP 68.05, -1.56, -2.24%) will be in focus after Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd as prime minister. Gillard said she was open to talking about a proposed tax on mining profits, though analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch point out that markets have already priced in some modification of an earlier proposal.

Bed Bath & Beyond /quotes/comstock/15*!bbby/quotes/nls/bbby (BBBY 39.77, -1.69, -4.08%) fell 5% after the mid-point of the retailer's second-quarter outlook lagged estimates.

Nike /quotes/comstock/13*!nke/quotes/nls/nke (NKE 69.60, -2.92, -4.03%) lost 2.6%. The sneaker maker reported a 53% quarterly profit rise, though its 8% revenue growth came in slightly below estimates.

After the close, software maker Oracle /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 22.45, -0.23, -1.01%) is scheduled to release earnings.

Hasbro /quotes/comstock/13*!has/quotes/nls/has (HAS 41.12, 0.00, 0.00%) rose 10.9%. Private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners is in preliminary talks with the toy making giant to take the company private in a leveraged buyout, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The cautious outlook on the economy hit stocks in Asia and Europe on Thursday, with the Hang Seng losing 0.6% and the Stoxx Europe 600 falling 0.7% in early afternoon trade.

Oil futures fell, and the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2296, -0.0020, -0.1624%) was trading below $1.23.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.


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