US Stocks Futures Lower after Big Drop Thursday

June 27, 2008 6:37:22 AM PDT
U.S. stocks headed for a modestly lower open Friday after Thursday's sharp dive, with investors anxious about oil's push above $142 a barrel but relieved about increases in personal income and spending. Stock futures pared their losses after the Commerce Department said spending rose 0.8 percent in May, as taxpayers started receiving their stimulus checks. The increase was higher than the 0.7 percent economists predicted. The report also said personal incomes surged 1.9 percent, significantly more than anticipated.

The data appeared to provide a bit of solace to investors nervous about consumers - whose spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity - struggling with rising prices, falling home values and the shaky job market.

But with many commodities on a seemingly unstoppable incline, Wall Street remains concerned that they will slam consumers with not only elevated prices for energy and food, but also for other goods if cash-strapped companies decide to pass along the rising costs. Early Friday, light, sweet crude was up more than $1 at $140.83 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after briefly surpassing $142.

Corn and soybean prices have also been hitting new all-time highs.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average gave up nearly 360 points and fell to its lowest level since September 2006 on a combination of worries about oil prices and the financial, automotive and technology sectors. General Motors Corp. shares dropped to their lowest level in more than three decades.

In early morning trading Friday, Dow futures fell 18, or 0.16 percent, to 11,444. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 1.40, or 0.11 percent, to 1,283.00, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 5.75, or 0.31 percent, to 1,860.75.

Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which tends to move opposite its price, was at 4.01 percent, down from 4.03 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

At 10 a.m. Eastern time, the University of Michigan is expected to release a revised report on consumer sentiment in June. That index is expected to indicate that Americans remain very pessimistic.

On Friday, a Lehman Brothers analyst lifted his prediction of how much Merrill Lynch & Co. will have to mark down the value of its assets in the second quarter. His write-down estimate rose to $5.4 billion from $3 billion. On Thursday, a Goldman Sachs analyst forecast a $4.2 billion write-down at Merrill and a nearly $9 billion write-down at Citigroup Inc.

Keeping investors nervous about the tech sector, Palm Inc. posted a worse-than-expected quarterly loss after the market closed Thursday. The smart phone maker said sales of Treo phones were slowing.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 2.01 percent after Wall Street's tumble. In midday trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.30 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.45 percent, and France's CAC-40 lost 0.70 percent.