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Stock futures modestly lower ahead of opening – Wall street

This article was posted on Aug 10, 2009 and is filed under Market News

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures were modestly lower early Monday as investors turn their attention to an upcoming Federal Reserve Board meeting and earnings from some of the nation’s largest retailers.

Overseas, Asian markets rose amid a positive report on Japanese machinery orders, a key indicator of corporate capital spending. European markets were modestly lower.

Amid a spring rally that has now stretched into the summer, investors will continue to hunt for signs of economic improvement to keep sending stocks higher. Better-than-expected earnings reports, along with signs of stabilization in the housing and banking sectors, have buoyed stocks in recent weeks.

To sustain the rally, investors will need to see consumers are back to buying goods. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is considered vital to a recovery.

Company outlooks could provide signs of how much recovery retailers expect to see in upcoming quarters.

“There’s less emphasis on earnings and more emphasis on outlooks,” said Bryan Place, principal at Place Financial Advisors. “I think there is pent-up demand.”

Place said that building demand could help boost consumer spending in the coming months. The popular “cash-for-clunkers” car trade-in program shows consumers might be ready to start buying again, he added.

Key retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Macy’s Inc. report earnings this week.

Investors will also look to the Fed for indications of how the economy is faring. It is widely expected the Fed will keep key interest rates steady at near zero, but concerns about inflation are starting to grow, which could eventually force the Fed to raise rates.

The Fed’s two-day meeting begins Tuesday.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 28, or 0.3 percent, to 9,297. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures declined 3.90, or 0.4 percent, to 1,002.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 9.50, or 0.6 percent, to 1,610.25.

Any market declines are likely to be small, Place said, because there is enough cash still being held by investors to meet any dip in the market with buying.

The muted futures trading Monday comes after the market rallied sharply on Friday amid a stronger-than-expected monthly unemployment report. The data was welcomed as the latest sign the economy is starting to rebound from its bottom, though it still hasn’t fully recovered.

The Labor Department said employers cut 247,000 jobs in July, fewer than the 320,000 expected to be cut. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent the previous month. Economists had predicted the jobless rate would rise to 9.6 percent.

The major indexes all jumped more than 1.2 percent on Friday.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.87 percent from 3.86 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.18 percent from 0.16 percent late Friday.

The dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.1 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.8 percent, Germany’s DAX index declined 1.2 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 1 percent.

source: yahoo finance

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