MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Indications: Stock futures fall as FedEx disappoints

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures fell Thursday after global shipper FedEx Corp.’s forecast for the year fell short of expectations and a decline in U.S. jobless claims proved too little to improve sentiment.

Gold futures extended a groundbreaking run, soaring past Tuesday’s record closing level. The metal’s appeal as a safe haven has been one reason that investors have rushed to buy it.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/19*!dy10z (DJZ10 10,505, +35.00, +0.33%)  fell 38 points to 10,538, and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f1:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,118, -3.00, -0.27%)  declined 5.4 points to 1,115.3. /quotes/comstock/21m!f1:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,118, -3.00, -0.27%)

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Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 1,940, +0.50, +0.03%)  lost 7.5 points to 1,932.

U.S. stocks eked out gains Wednesday, with the blue-chip Dow industrials /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,581, +8.03, +0.08%)  ending higher by 0.4%.

FedEx /quotes/comstock/13*!fdx/quotes/nls/fdx (FDX 82.14, -3.80, -4.42%)  hiked its financial outlook after its first-quarter net income doubled, but its forecast for the second quarter and 2010 came in short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Early economic reports had the count of those filing claims for jobless benefits falling by 3,000 last week, better than had been expected by many analysts.

The level of claims is “definitely an improvement from the high levels of late July and through August but is still elevated historically speaking,” said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.

Separately, wholesale prices climbed in August, but, excluding food and energy prices, inflation remained muted.

The Philadelphia Fed index for September, measuring factory activity at the regional level, is slated to be released at 10 a.m.

“The survey started to deteriorate since June and has been on a downward trend since then,” said strategists at Deutsche Bank. “Markets are hopeful for a bounce today.”

In the technology sector, Oracle Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 25.33, -0.41, -1.59%)  and Research In Motion Ltd. /quotes/comstock/15*!rimm/quotes/nls/rimm (RIMM 46.26, +0.74, +1.63%)  are scheduled to report results after the close on Wall Street.

Shares of Ford Motor Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!f/quotes/nls/f (F 12.41, +0.54, +4.57%)  gained in thin premarket trading after the car maker was upgraded to overweight from equal weight at Barclays Capital.

Traders are also eagerly awaiting congressional testimony by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner due after the market opens. Geithner will testify on exchange-rate policies, including those of China.

The comments will be particularly interesting after Japanese authorities intervened in the currency markets Wednesday to stem the rise of the Japanese yen, which recently surged to a 15-year high against the dollar.

In India overnight, the central bank lifted interest rates. Asian markets finished lower, with China’s Shanghai Composite index dropping nearly 2%. See full story on the Reserve Bank of India’s rate hike.

In Europe, the Swiss National Bank is expected to maintain its expansionary monetary policy and keep the Libor rate in the lower part of the target range, at around 0.25%. Investors will scrutinize the reaction of the Swiss franc in light of the currency’s recent strength.

European stocks moved lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 263.47, -2.07, -0.78%) off 0.5% in afternoon trading.

Shares of German conglomerate Siemens AG /quotes/comstock/13*!si/quotes/nls/si (SI 102.05, +2.34, +2.35%)   /quotes/comstock/11e!fsie (DE:SIE 77.94, +1.34, +1.75%)  bucked the negative trend. They rose on the Xetra trading platform after two brokerages issued bullish assessments of the company.

U.K. retail sales posted an unexpected 0.5% monthly decline for August, sending the British pound as low as $1.5537. The currency later recovered some ground to trade down 0.2% at $1.5600. See full story on British retail.

The euro advanced 0.4% to trade at $1.3053. The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 81.25, -0.25, -0.30%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, fell 0.1% to 81.378.

Polya Lesova is reporter for MarketWatch, based in Frankfurt. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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