Stock Futures Slide as Focus Returns to Europe


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. futures were slightly lower Friday morning as investors kept their eye on developments from a summit in Europe.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 20 points, or 13.3 points below fair value, at 12,953. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 3.5 points, or 1.9 points below fair value, at 1371. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 4.5 points, or 4.7 points below fair value, at 2639.

"People are concerned about seeing a 3% to 5% pullback, but I don't know if there would be any major catalyst for that," said Steve Ayer, managing director at HighTower's Strata Wealth Management. "There's a tentative feeling of missing this rally and therefore every pullback is being bought up... The minor pullback that appears at the open may be a tiny bit of profit taking from the record close yesterday."

The focus of investors shifted to Europe as no economic releases were expected from the U.S. today. European Union leaders made some progress at a two-day meeting in Brussels. Euro area leaders agreed to allow the region's bailout fund to raise money for Greece's bond swap. The move will help Greece avoid a default in late March and is a step toward getting the country it's second round of bailout money.

Policymakers in Europe also decided to help expand the permanent bailout fund more quickly by possibly starting with two payments in 2012, and completing a capitalization a year ahead of time.

Investors are closely monitoring whether private creditors will participate in Greece's debt swap. There remains a possibility that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association could decide that forcing creditors to accept the agreement collectively will trigger credit default swaps. Such a case could lead to a contagion effect where financial institutions would have to pay insurance contracts.

"The summit in Europe isn't giving much direction to market at all," added Ayer. "There's nothing too pressing that the market is fearful of."

Germany's DAX was down 0.29% while London's FTSE was down 0.3%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled up 0.72% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.81%.

In corporate news, Internet-based photo and greeting cards company Shutterfly ( SFLY) is reportedly looking to acquire Eastman Kodak's online photo services business for $23.8 million. Kodak has entered bankruptcy protection, and the agreement between the two parties characterizes Shutterfly's offer as the initial "stalking horse" bid for an auction process to be conducted through the bankruptcy court. Shutterfly shares were jumping 15.5% to $31.07 in premarket trading Friday.

Zynga ( ZNGA), the online game developer, announced Thursday a new online platform to play its titles, a move that will allow users to play games on its site and reduce its dependence on Facebook. "In addition to serving up popular Zynga games, Zynga.com will let players discover and play social games created by third party game developers," the company said in a press release. Shares were adding 3.5% to $14.99.

A German court has dismissed a patent infringement suit brought by Apple ( AAPL) against Samsung Electronics over slide-to-unlock technology, and also rejected a claim by Samsung that Apple infringed one of its third-generation, or 3G, wireless patents, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Separately, ahead of Apple's expected iPad3 launch at a March 7 event in San Francisco, DigiTimes reported that the company may have trouble keeping up with demand for the product due to a shortage of high resolution display supplies. Shares were down 0.2% to $543.28.

Yelp ( YELP), the online business review company, said its initial public was priced at $15 a share, above its projected range of $12 to $14. Yelp is selling 7.1 million shares, while its charitable foundation will sell 50,000. The IPO values Yelp at $900 million. The stock begins trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

April oil futures were down 77 cents to $108.07 a barrel after topping $110 a barrel yesterday on nervousness about tensions in the middle east. In other commodities, April gold futures were down $5 to $1717 an ounce.

The dollar index was 0.6% higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 4/32 diluting the yield to 2.016%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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