MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indications: Stock futures retain losses after economic data

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By Polya Lesova and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures dropped Wednesday after reports showed a 0.1% uptick in consumer prices and a pickup in New York’s regional manufacturing activity.

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Already lower before the data, stock-index futures fell a bit more after the consumer price index, excluding volatile food and energy costs, edged up for the first time since July.

The government data reinforced the Federal Reserve’s stance “that inflation is not yet a concern, while deflation and disinflation are more pressing,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. Read more about the CPI.

Separately, the New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State Index rebounded to 10.6 in December. Read more about the Empire State data.

At last check, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,450, +29.00, +0.25%)  were off 28 points to 11,393, and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,236, -0.60, -0.05%)  fell 3.6 points to 1,233.20.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,212, -2.50, -0.11%)  dropped 6.5 points to 2,207.5.

On Tuesday, the blue-chip Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,510, +33.83, +0.29%)  rose 0.4%, posting its highest closing value since September 2008.

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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 $1.3335.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 79.80, +0.43, +0.54%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, rose to 79.601.

Commodity prices posted losses, with gold futures dropping $15.1 to $1,389.2 an ounce in New York. Oil futures retreated 85 cents to $87.44 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 58.88, +3.05, +5.46%)  rallied 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 165.23, +2.80, +1.72%)  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 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 16.57, -0.07, -0.39%)  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 86.80, +6.59, +8.22%)  advanced 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 5.62, +0.17, +3.03%)  said it agreed to a $5.50-a-share offer from Icahn Enterprises L.P. /quotes/comstock/13*!iep/quotes/nls/iep (IEP 33.92, +0.12, +0.34%) , but left the door open to explore potential counterbids until Jan. 24. Read about the deal for Dynegy.

Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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