Friday, May 15, 2009

U.S. stock futures drift lower before data wave - MarketWatch

U.S. stock futures drift lower before data wave - MarketWatch
May 15, 2009, 8:42 a.m. EST

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures drifted lower Friday to wrap up a week of consolidation, as gains for insurers on approval to get government money weren't matched elsewhere.

Continuing a week that's featured three losses in four sessions, S&P 500 futures fell 3.3 points to 886.20 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 6.75 points to 1,347.00. Dow industrial futures slipped 38 points.

Futures were still in the negative camp after data showing U.S. consumer prices were flat on a monthly basis and down 0.7% on an annual basis, the biggest drop in 54 years.

Core prices excluding food and energy have climbed 1.9% over the last year.

A separate release showed manufacturing activity in the New York area contracted at the slowest pace since last August.

Still to come is March investment flow data, April industrial production and the preliminary University of Michigan consumer sentiment gauge for May.

GDP data was released across the globe, including figures showing Germany's worst quarterly performance since 1970.

The German economic data hit the euro, which dropped 0.6%, and the dollar fell to two-month lows vs. the Japanese yen.

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds rose to 3.105% after the data. Yields move in the opposite direction to prices. Oil futures fell 77 cents a barrel.

Insurers were in the spotlight as Hartford Financial Services Group /quotes/comstock/13*!hig/quotes/nls/hig (HIG 16.43, +1.68, +11.39%) , Prudential Financial /quotes/comstock/13*!pru/quotes/nls/pru (PRU 39.16, -0.21, -0.53%) , Lincoln National /quotes/comstock/13*!lnc/quotes/nls/lnc (LNC 17.32, +1.08, +6.65%) , Allstate /quotes/comstock/13*!all/quotes/nls/all (ALL 25.33, +0.08, +0.32%) , Ameriprise /quotes/comstock/13*!amp/quotes/nls/amp (AMP 24.92, -0.14, -0.56%) and the Principal Financial Group /quotes/comstock/13*!pfg/quotes/nls/pfg (PFG 19.40, +0.54, +2.86%) have all received approval for billions in government money, sparking rallies for those names in pre-open action.

The Wall Street Journal reported that up to $22 billion will be injected into the insurers under the program launched last year as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

General Motors /quotes/comstock/13*!gm/quotes/nls/gm (GM 1.14, -0.01, -0.87%) meanwhile is near a deal to cut its hourly labor costs by more than $1 billion a year and reduce its $20 billion pledge to cover health-care obligations, according to the Journal.

Abercrombie & Fitch /quotes/comstock/13*!anf/quotes/nls/anf (ANF 26.00, -1.25, -4.59%) dropped 6% after reporting a $26.8 million quarterly loss - which exclude an impairment charge that's currently being calculated.

Europe stocks turned lower, with the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 slipping 0.1%.

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 1.5% and the Nikkei 225 gained 1.9%.

U.S. stocks on Thursday recaptured a portion of the prior session's losses, helped by solid results from retailers offering relatively low-priced goods like Wal-Mart Stores and Kohl's. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46 points, the Nasdaq Composite added 25 points and the S&P 500 gained 9 points.

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