Futures Slide on Economic Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were slipping Tuesday as concerns about rising inflation in China and weaker-than-expected retail sales growth in the U.S. weighed on Wall Street.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 17 points, or 31 points below fair value, at 12,207. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 2.4 points, or 4.8 points below fair value, at 1325, and Nasdaq futures were down by 4.2 points, or 6.9 points below fair value.

Stocks ran in place for most of Monday's session on a day that was light on economic data but saw the White House release a $3.73 trillion budget for fiscal 2012.

China on Tuesday said inflation rose 4.9% in January on a 10.3% spike in food costs. The rise was slightly higher than December's uptick of 4.6% and just below the 28-month high of 5.1% in November. The news comes after Beijing has raised interest rates three times since October to rein in economic growth.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1% while Japan's Nikkei added 0.2%. London's FTSE was shedding 0.02% while the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.2%.

The Commerce Department said January retail sales rose 0.3%, falling slightly short of the 0.5% increase that economists had been expecting. Excluding autos, sales also gained 0.3%, compared with the 0.6% uptick that had been expected. In December, retail sales rose 0.5% and 0.6%, excluding autos.
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The New York Fed said February manufacturing activity in the New York region rose largely as expected with the Empire State manufacturing index jumping to 15.43 from 11.92, previously. Economists had expected a reading of 15.5.

Export prices, excluding agriculture, gained 0.9% in January, after rising by 0.6% in December, and import prices, excluding oil, increased 0.8%, after growth of 0.3% in December.

At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department will release its report on business inventories for December. Economists are projecting expansion of 0.6%, after growth of 0.2% in November, according to Briefing.com.

At the same time, the National Association of Home Builders housing market index is slated to climb to 17 in February, from a reading of 16 in January.

The Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext ( NYX) are expected to announce their merger during Tuesday's session. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the 17-member board of the combined firm will mostly be drawn from the German company. NYSE Euronext's stock was trading 0.9% higher at $39.80 in early trading.

Sirius XM ( SIRI) reported a fourth-quarter loss of 2 cents a share as operating services expenses rose and the satellite radio company paid off a large portion of its debt. Analysts had expected Sirius to break even. The stock was off by 7.1% at $1.70 during premarket trading.

Shares of FedEx ( FDX) were up by 1% at $94.90 despite the company's 25-cent reduction to its current quarter guidance, citing severe weather and higher fuel prices. FedEx now expects third-quarter adjusted earning to come in between 70 cents and 90 cents a share , down from its previous range of 95 cents to $1.15 a share.

British bank Barclays ( BCS) saw its stock gain 6% to $21.16 ahead of Tuesday's opening bell after it said profits rose 36% in 2010 on lower impairment charges.

At 4:30 p.m., the American Petroleum Institute will issue its weekly read on crude oil inventories. According to a Platts survey, analysts are expecting an increase of 2.8 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 11.

In commodity markets, the March crude oil contract was trading 68 cents higher at $85.49 a barrel. The April gold contract, the most actively traded gold future, was higher by $8.70 to trade at $1,373.80 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 6/32, lifting the yield to 3.648%. The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.1%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.

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

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