Friday, September 30, 2011

U.S. Stock Futures Decline on Economy Concerns

U.S. stock-index futures fell, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will extend its biggest quarterly drop since 2008, after reports from China and Germany added to concern the global economy is slowing.

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), the world’s largest construction and mining-equipment maker, slipped 1.2 percent in German trading. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) slid more than 1.4 percent. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) decreased 1.5 percent as oil headed for the biggest quarterly decline in New York since 2008.

S&P 500 futures expiring in December retreated 1.2 percent to 1,142 at 7:10 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts fell 121 points, or 1.1 percent, to 10,978.

“Those concerns are very much alive,” Veronika Pechlaner, who helps manage about $1.8 billion at Jersey, Channel Islands- based Ashburton Ltd., said in a telephone interview, referring to a slowdown in economic growth. “Now we’re going through the process of really finding out how bad it’s going to be.”

The S&P 500 yesterday rose 0.8 percent as lower-than- estimated claims for unemployment benefits helped offset losses in consumer and technology shares. The index is heading toward its fifth monthly loss, the longest falling streak since March 2008. The U.S. equity gauge has tumbled 12 percent this quarter and is down 7.7 percent for the year.

China Manufacturing
A gauge of Chinese manufacturing shrank for a third month, the longest contraction since 2009, as measures of new orders and export demand declined. The reading of 49.9 for the September purchasing managers’ index, released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics today, was unchanged from August and compared with a preliminary 49.4 figure published last week. The gauge was below 50, the level that separates expansion from contraction, for eight months through March 2009.

In Germany, retail sales declined the most in more than four years in August as concerns about the economic impact of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis sapped consumers’ willingness to spend. Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, slumped 2.9 from July, when they rose 0.3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. That’s the biggest drop since May 2007. Economists forecast a 0.5 percent decline, according to the median of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. futures extended their losses after European inflation unexpectedly accelerated to the fastest in almost three years. The euro-area inflation rate jumped to 3 percent this month from 2.5 percent in August, the European Union’s statistics office said. That’s the biggest annual increase in consumer prices since October 2008.

Consumer Spending

A Commerce Department report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington may show consumer spending in the U.S. slowed last month as growing pessimism and a lack of jobs restrained the biggest part of the economy. Purchases rose 0.2 percent after a 0.8 percent gain in July, according to the median estimate of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The figures are also projected to show incomes rose 0.1 percent, the smallest increase in nine months.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer eased to 55 this month from 56.5 in August, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed. Readings greater than 50 signal growth. The University of Michigan’s final confidence index for the month was probably 57.8, unchanged from a preliminary reading issued two weeks ago and up from 55.7 in August, the lowest since November 2008.

Caterpillar slid 1.2 percent to $74.49 in German trading.

JPMorgan declined 1.5 percent to $30.92, while Bank of America fell 1.6 percent to $6.25. Financial companies in the S&P 500 have sunk 20 percent this quarter, the second-biggest decline among 10 major industry groups.

Exxon Mobil dropped 1.5 percent to $72.80. Oil headed for the biggest quarterly loss since the 2008 financial crisis as signs of slowing growth heightened concerns that fuel demand will suffer.

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