Wall Street Seen Lower on Alcoa Layoffs

By Madlen Read

NEW YORK -- Wall Street headed for a lower open Wednesday, sobered by aluminum producer Alcoa's ( AA) decision to slash jobs and production to navigate through the global downturn.

The announcement was a harsh reminder that the economy both domestically and abroad remains in rough shape. Alcoa said late Tuesday it is reducing its global work force by about 13,500, or 13%, by the end of the year and lowering total output by more than 18% annually.

The market's economic worries had been calmed a bit in recent days by President-elect Barack Obama's proposal to slash taxes and help businesses. The stimulus package could cost as much as $775 billion, though, and Obama said Tuesday the nation could face trillion-dollar deficits "for years to come."

Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 57 points, or 0.6%, to 8,893. S&P 500 index futures fell 5.20 points, or 0.6%, to 925.30, and Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 5.75 points, or 0.5%, to 1,265.25.

On Tuesday, Wall Street overcame gloomy economic readings to finish with a moderate advance.

Government bond prices retreated in premarket trading Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.49% from 2.47% late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, edged slightly lower to 0.13% from 0.14%.

The Treasury plans to auction a record $30 billion in three-year notes on Wednesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Crude oil prices slipped 27 cents to $48.21 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In Asian trading, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.7%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 3.4%. In late morning trading in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.4%, Germany's DAX index fell 0.9%, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.2%.

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