Futures Slip on Weak Durables Growth

Stocks were slipping Wednesday as July durable goods orders showed weaker-than-expected growth and investors awaited the July new-home sales report.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stock futures pointed to a weaker open Wednesday after July durable goods orders showed weaker-than-expected growth. Investors were also bracing themselves for the July new-home sales report, a day after a

27.2% plunge in July existing-home sales reignited fears of prolonged economic weakness.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were down by 52 points at 9971 and were 52 points below fair value. Futures for the

S&P 500

were off by 7 points at 1043 and were 7 points below fair value, and

Nasdaq

futures were lower by 14 points and were 14 points below fair value.

Stocks took a hit Tuesday as investors

sought safe-haven investments after the July existing-home sales report showed the housing market to be much weaker than economists had expected.

Arizona Sen.

John McCain won in a Republican primary Tuesday against conservative J.D. Hayworth, while Rep. Kendrick Meek took Florida's Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

The Department of Commerce said durable goods orders rose 0.3% in July after slipping 0.1% in June. July's growth was much lower than the 3% increase that economists had been expecting, according to Briefing.com. Excluding transportation, durable orders dropped 3.8%, disappointing expectations for an uptick of 0.5%, and coming in weaker than June's 0.2% growth.

At 10 a.m. EDT, the market will be bracing itself for the Department of Commerce's July new-home sales report. Economists are anticipating new-home sales of 334,000, compared with 330,000 in June, according to

Briefing.com

.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency's house price index for June also will be released at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Information Administration's will issue its weekly inventory report. Analysts polled by Platts are expecting a 1.1 million-barrel increase in crude oil supplies and an additional 950,000 barrels of distillates in the week ended Aug. 20. Meanwhile, gasoline stockpiles are expected to shed 875,000 barrels.

Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute reported a 1.85 million-barrel drop in crude stocks.

Ahead of the EIA report, crude oil for October delivery was gaining 15 cents, to trade at $71.78 a barrel.

3Par

(PAR) - Get Report

is opening up merger talks with

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

, according to a late Tuesday filing that said HP's unsolicited acquisition proposal was "reasonably likely" to lead to a better deal than the one 3Par struck with

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

last week.

BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get Report

made no mention of its unsuccessful $39 billion hostile bid for

Potash of Saskatchewan

(POT)

when it reported that profits more than doubled to $12.72 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30 and sales rose 5.2% to $52.8 billion. Earnings, however, came in below the $13.3 billion that analysts had been expecting, according to

Bloomberg

.

Luxury homebuilder

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

swung to a third-quarter profit of $27.3 million, or 16 cents a share, which includes pretax writedowns of $12.5 million and a tax benefit of $26.5 million. Sales, meanwhile, fell to $454.2 million from $461.4 million a year ago. Consensus estimates, which exclude one-time items, had been for a loss of 14 cents a share, according to

Briefing.com

.

Teen retailer

American Eagle

(AEO) - Get Report

is expected to report a quarterly profit of 13 cents a share ahead of Wednesday's opening bell, according to

Briefing.com

.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the December gold contract was ahead by $5.50, trading at $1,238.90 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was up by 2/32, diluting the yield to 2.488%.

Meanwhile, the dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.2%.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1%, and Japan's Nikkei fell 1.7%. The FTSE in London was losing 0.4%, and the DAX in Frankfurt was lower by 0.3%.

--Written by Melinda Peer in New York

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.