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Friday, July 16, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures fluctuate after CPI

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By Steve Goldstein and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures sputtered Friday, as relief over Goldman Sachs Group Inc. liabilities met disappointing earnings from banking giants Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. and Internet bellwether Google Inc.

Stock index futures continued to meander on either of unchanged after the government reported its gauge of consumer prices fell 0.1% in June, while the core rate climbed 0.2%.

"Deflation talk in the market has taken over but was not evident in the core data today," noted Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 12 points at 10,280. Those for the S&P 500 fell fractionally to 1,090.10, while Nasdaq 100 futures were up 1 point at 1,850.25.

Markets moved into the red as bank results weren't warmly greeted. Bank of America /quotes/comstock/13*!bac/quotes/nls/bac (BAC 14.43, -0.96, -6.24%) and Citigroup /quotes/comstock/13*!c/quotes/nls/c (C 4.03, -0.13, -3.13%) each topped earnings estimates but revenue disappointed. Bank of America fell 4% and Citi slipped 1.7%.

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Major U.S. stock indexes finished Thursday with little movement, as a raft of sour economic data as well as mixed interpretations of J.P. Morgan Chase's earnings were met by reports -- proved accurate after the markets closed -- that Goldman Sachs settled allegations of fraud brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

BP Plc /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 37.50, -1.42, -3.65%) shares were off 1.3% in premarket trade after the oil giant said it stemmed, at least temporarily, the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Goldman /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 149.73, +4.51, +3.10%) agreed to pay $550 million to settle the suit, prompting Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts to upgrade its rival to buy. The broker also lifted its price target for the stock to $182 from $160, saying the probability of other significant legal issues arising from the mortgage debacle is very low. "Specifically, we believe that the settlement of this case significantly reduces the probability of any criminal charges by the Department of Justice," the broker said.

Google /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 467.40, -26.62, -5.39%) fell 4.1% as the online search giant reported a smaller-than-forecast 24% rise in second-quarter profit.

General Electric /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 14.77, -0.48, -3.15%) shares edged lower after it reported a 16% profit rise as its finance arm recovered.

The economic calendar also features May Treasury inflows, and shortly after the open, the University of Michigan's preliminary consumer confidence gauge for July.

The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2957, +0.0029, +0.2243%) hit a two-month high against the dollar, reaching $1.30, and the Japanese yen also rose.

Asian equities were hit hard, with the Nikkei 225 slammed 2.9% in Tokyo.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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