MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Friday, January 14, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures point to lower open

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By William L. Watts and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures retained modest losses on Friday after economic data showed retail sales and consumer prices rose in December and China again raised bank reserve requirements.

The government reported the consumer price index climbed 0.5% in December, the greatest hike in 18 months, with the bulk of the increase coming on the rising price of gasoline.

Separate government data had sales at U.S. retailers climbing 0.6% in December for a sixth straight month.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,695, +12.00, +0.10%)  declined 38 points to 11,645, while S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,284, +2.90, +0.23%)  fell 4.1 points to 1,277.2.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,312, +9.25, +0.40%)  were up almost 1 point at 2,303.5.

The People’s Bank of China on Friday boosted its reserve-requirement ratio for banks by half a percentage point. The ratio, which determines the amount of money that lenders must keep on reserve, has been lifted numerous times over the past year. Read more about China’s move.

Asia's week ahead

China will announce inflation and economic growth figures, and Australian mining giants will release quarterly reports.

The move put pressure on metals prices and undercut mining stocks in Europe, and it also appeared to impact U.S. stock futures, which were already trading with a soft tone, said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.

Although China had telegraphed another possible action on reserve requirements, investors seemed to factor in a smaller tightening of about a quarter-point, he said.

Banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!jpm/quotes/nls/jpm (JPM 45.54, +1.09, +2.45%)  reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, aided by narrowing losses on poor loans. Read about J.P. Morgan’s results.

After Thursday’s closing bell, chip manufacturer Intel Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!intc/quotes/nls/intc (INTC 21.08, -0.22, -1.01%)  reported a 48% jump in fourth-quarter profit, driven by strong demand for server processors. Shares gained in premarket activity Friday, with analysts citing the company’s strong forecast and a rise in projected capital spending, viewed as a sign of confidence in future demand. Read about Intel's results.

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Later Friday, investors will see December industrial-production data and the University of Michigan’s gauge of January consumer sentiment.

On Thursday, U.S. stocks finished lower in the wake of disappointing economic data, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,752, +20.13, +0.17%)  slipping 0.2% to close at 11,731.90.

European stocks were mostly lower Friday, although Intel’s upbeat earnings boosted the region’s tech sector. Read more in Europe Markets.

Asian stocks finished mostly lower, coming under pressure in the wake of Thursday’s lackluster data on U.S. weekly jobless claims. Read more about Asia markets.

The dollar rose slightly versus the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (EURUSD 1.3326, -0.0034, -0.2545%)  in choppy trade Friday to $1.3339. The euro rallied sharply versus the dollar Thursday after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet warned on inflation. Read about Trichet’s comments.

The dollar rose versus the Japanese yen /quotes/comstock/21o!x:susdjpy (USDYEN 82.9600, +0.1700, +0.2053%)  to trade at 82.95 yen.

Gold futures /quotes/comstock/21e!f:gc\h11 (GCH11 1,358, -30.30, -2.18%)  fell $23.60 to $1,363.40 an ounce.

Nymex crude-oil futures /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\h11 (CLH11 91.88, -0.42, -0.46%)  declined 89 cents to change hands at $90.51 a barrel in electronic trade.

William L. Watts is a reporter for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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