MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indications: Stock futures drop ahead of economic data

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures dropped Wednesday before the release of inflation and manufacturing data, while euro-zone debt worries returned to the spotlight after a major ratings agency warned it may downgrade Spain’s credit rating.

Gold and oil futures also declined, while the U.S. dollar advanced against its major rivals.

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Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,404, -17.00, -0.15%)  slipped 28 points to 11,393, and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,233, -4.20, -0.34%)  fell 3.40 points to 1,233.40.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,211, -2.75, -0.12%)  dropped 6.25 points to 2,207.70.

On Tuesday, the blue-chip Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,477, +47.98, +0.42%)  rose 0.4%, posting its highest closing value since September 2008.

Investors were awaiting a string of U.S. economic reports early Wednesday.

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The Empire State manufacturing survey for December and consumer-price-inflation data for November are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

At 9:15 a.m. Eastern, data on industrial production for November will be released.

After the market opens, at 10 a.m. Eastern, the NAHB housing-market index for December is due.

In Europe, Spain led regional stock markets lower after Moody’s Investors Service put Spain’s Aa1 ratings on review for a possible downgrade. The agency said Spain is vulnerable to funding stress, given its high refinancing needs in 2011 and fragile market confidence.

Madrid’s IBEX 35 stock index slumped 1.8% in intraday trading, weighed by the banks. See story on Moody’s reviewing Spain.

The euro pared earlier losses against the dollar to trade little changed at $1.3366.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 79.60, +0.23, +0.29%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, rose 0.2% to 79.539.

Commodity prices posted losses, with gold futures dropping $12.20 to $1,392.10 an ounce in electronic trading on Globex. Oil futures retreated 65 cents to $87.63 a barrel ahead of weekly data on U.S. inventories.

On the corporate front, U.S.-listed shares of Novartis AG /quotes/comstock/13*!nvs/quotes/nls/nvs (NVS 55.83, +0.71, +1.29%)  rallied 8.7% in premarket trading. The Swiss drug giant said Wednesday that it will take full ownership of eye-care specialist Alcon Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!acl/quotes/nls/acl (ACL 162.43, +1.71, +1.06%)  for $12.9 billion. Previously, Novartis controlled about 77% of Alcon. After the merger is completed, Alcon will become the new eye-care division of Novartis.

Shares of Alcon rose 2.5% in premarket trade. Read more about the Novartis deal for Alcon.

In the technology sector, shares of Yahoo Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!yhoo/quotes/nls/yhoo (YHOO 16.63, -0.07, -0.40%)  may be active after the firm said late Tuesday that it’s laying off 4% of its roughly 14,000 employees. Read about layoffs at Yahoo.

Shares of Joy Global Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!joyg/quotes/nls/joyg (JOYG 80.21, -0.39, -0.48%)  advanced nearly 6% in premarket trading after the mining-equipment company reported quarterly profit that beat market expectations.

In deal news, Dynegy Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!dyn/quotes/nls/dyn (DYN 5.45, -0.23, -4.05%)  said it will be acquired by Icahn Enterprises L.P. /quotes/comstock/13*!iep/quotes/nls/iep (IEP 33.80, +0.13, +0.39%)  for $5.50 a share in cash. Shares of Dynegy gained 3% in premarket trade.

Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau.

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