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Market Hustle: U.S. Futures Decline as Investors Struggle to Find Reasons to Buy

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to declines Friday, as international markets stalled on evidence of a slowdown in the economy. Fourth-quarter earnings reports were struggling to bring investors out of their slump.

  • S&P 500 futures were slipping 9.25 points, or 7.56 points below fair value, to 1,815, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were retreating 72 points, or 54.35 points below fair value, to 16,079, Nasdaq futures were down 14.8 points, or 7.41 points below fair value, to 3,599.

  • Markets sold off sharply Thursday on signs that Chinese manufacturing activity shrank in January and amid a broad-based decline in a U.S. manufacturing index. In addition, McDonald's (MCD) gave a mediocre global forecast.

  • S&P Capital IQ said that of the 100 companies that have given guidance this earnings season, 80 have been negative, 10 have been positive and 10 were in-line. This produces a negative-to-positive ratio of 8, higher than the 15-year average.

  • The FTSE 100 was down 0.83%, and the DAX was off 0.87%. The Nikkei 225 declined 1.94%, while the Hang Seng slid 1.25%.

  • Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) was up 0.65% to $78.75 in premarket trading. The consumer-products giant said it expects strong earnings momentum in the second half of the fiscal year driven by solid top-line growth, moderating foreign exchange headwinds, and productivity savings. Fiscal second-quarter per-share earnings beat estimates by a penny, but fell 1%.

  • Honeywell (HON - Get Report) was up 1% to $90.70 after earnings came in 3 cents above fourth-quarter expectations.

  • Microsoft (MSFT) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue that topped estimates as strong Surface sales growth helped offset continued weakness in Windows OEM. Shares were jumping 3.26% to $37.23.

  • Starbucks (SBUX) said fourth-quarter profit increased by 25%. Still, sales growth slowed, and revenue fell short. Its share price was up 1.19% to $74.26.

  • The U.S. economic calendar on Friday is empty.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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