Stock Futures Drift Lower


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were signaling a lower open for Wall Street Wednesday as investors weighed global worries, worsened by FedEx's (FDX) reduced guidance and gloomy European reports, against hopes for stimulus ahead of the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 20 points, or 6.06 points above fair value, at 13,030. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.9 points, or 0.34 points below fair value, at 1403. Futures for the Nasdaq were down by 7.75 points, 3.98 points below fair value, at 2766.

"We move towards the ECB meeting tomorrow, with markets looking for reasons to be volatile," said Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS. "We expect the ECB to ease the refi (not the discount) rate and to give a broad outline of the bond buying program -- with the constraint that we still have the German court ruling the permanent European rescue fund ahead."

U.S. stocks finished mixed Tuesday afternoon with a weak batch of economic data balanced against a 1%-plus pop in Apple ( AAPL). The ongoing debate about what kind of support the ECB will provide for the region's troubled nations also affected investor sentiment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provided a revised read on U.S. second-quarter nonfarm business productivity of up 2.2%, above the 1.8% gain expected by economists.

The report said the read on second-quarter unit labor costs was revised to a 1.5% increase, as expected. The previous read showed a 1.7% gain.

The FTSE in London was drifting lower, down 0.39%, while the DAX in Germany was up 0.18% and paring gains, hurt by a number of disheartening reports.

The European Union's statistics office said Wednesday that retail trade in the region fell 0.2% in July from June as worsening economic conditions hurt consumer demand.

Also, Markit published data showing that its August composite PMI index on manufacturing and services declined to a revised 46.3, down from the flash reading of 46.6 and the July level of 46.5.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng index closed behind by 1.47% and the Nikkei in Japan finished down 1.09%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was unchanged, with the yield at 1.576%. The greenback was up 0.13%, according to the dollar index.

October crude oil futures were down 17 cents at $95.13 a barrel and December gold futures were down $2.10 at $1,693.90 an ounce.

On the corporate front, FedEx, the package delivery giant, said it now expects earnings of $1.37 to $1.43 a share in its fiscal first quarter ended in August, well below its original forecast for a profit of $1.45 to $1.60 a share.

FedEx said global weakness "constrained revenue growth at FedEx Express more than expected in the earlier guidance."

Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.56 a share in the first quarter.

Facebook ( FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated he has no plans to sell any of his stock holdings in the social networking giant for at least 12 months.

Apple confirmed Tuesday it is holding a big event, widely expected to be the launch of the iPhone 5, on Sept. 12.

The stock finished Tuesday's regular session at $674.97, up 1.5%. The shares are up more than 60% in 2012.

Nokia ( NOK) and Microsoft ( MSFT) are expected Wednesday to unveil Nokia's new Lumia 920 smartphone in New York.

The new phone, Nokia's most powerful, will feature Windows Phone 8, the latest version of Microsoft's operating system.

Dollar General ( DG) hiked its full-year earnings guidance, after posting stronger fiscal-second quarter profit, as demand for basic goods and cheaper foods rose.

The discount retailer also announced that its board has approved the buyback of up to an additional $500 million of its common stock.


--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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