Stock Futures Slip As Second Quarter Begins


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures Monday were falling ahead of new reports on manufacturing and construction spending, after stocks booked solid gains during the first quarter.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 17 points, or 18 points below fair value, at 13,125. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 1 point, or 1 point below fair value, at 1402. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 3 points, or 3 points below fair value, at 2749.

After the S&P 500 pushed ahead by 12% in the first quarter, market-watchers are cautious about the second quarter. Corporate earnings growth is expected at 3.2% for the second quarter, an estimate that's significantly lower than the forecast from last year, according to Thomson Reuters. Analysts had expected growth of 10.2% in October 2011, but a high number of negative pre-announcements have pushed down the consensus forecast.

On the U.S. economic calendar Monday, the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for March and construction spending for February are both expected at 10 a.m. EDT. Economists forecast the manufacturing index to show a reading of 53 for March after coming in at 52.4 the prior month. A Commerce Department report may show that construction spending rose 0.7% in February, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

In corporate news, Groupon ( GRPN) the online deals company, revised its reported fourth-quarter results lower. Its independent auditor determined it has a "material weakness" in its internal controls. Groupon affirmed its first-quarter guidance, reiterating its revenue forecast of between $510 million and $550 million.

Starbucks ( SBUX) is planning a big expansion of its China business, according to reports. The coffee-shop operator plans to triple its number of stores in China to 1,500 from 500 by 2015, said John Culver, the head of Starbuck's China and Asia Pacific business, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sirius XM Radio ( SIRI) is appealing to federal regulators to prevent Liberty Media from taking over the satellite radio company. Sirius revealed in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission on Friday that Liberty has asked the FCC for permission to take "de facto" control of Sirius. But Sirius asked the FCC to "dismiss or deny" the application, the Journal said.

Liberty owns preferred stock that is convertible into about 40% of the outstanding common stock of Sirius.

Credit card processor Global Payments ( GPN) said Sunday night it "identified and self-reported unauthorized access into its processing system. " Global Payments, in a press release, said hackers accessed its processing system and about 1.5 million card numbers "may have been exported." The company said the breach was confined to North America. It said it believes the "incident is contained."

Monday begins a shortened trading week. On Friday, the government will release its monthly jobs report for March, but U.S. markets will be closed for Good Friday.

Germany's DAX was up 0.15% while London's FTSE was down 0.12% on Monday.

In Asia, data showed that Chinese manufacturing activity rose last month. China's National Bureau of Statistics said over the weekend that its purchasing managers' index expanded to a one-year high of 53.1 in March, compared to another measure of manufacturing from HSBC which had showed a manufacturing contraction.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.16% while the Nikkei Average in Japan finished higher by 0.26% overnight.

May oil futures were down 52 cents to $102.50. In other commodities, June gold futures were down $3.90 to $1688 an ounce.

The dollar index was 0.12% higher. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 3/32 pushing the yield to 2.223%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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