US stock index futures point to flat-to-lower start

Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:30am GMT

LONDON Dec 20 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed
to a flat-to-lower open on Wall Street on Thursday.

* Futures for the SP 500 and the Dow Jones
were down 0.1 percent, while contracts for the Nasdaq 100
were flat at 1001 GMT.

* Japan’s Nikkei average dropped on Thursday in active trade
after the central bank’s third dose of monetary stimulus
disappointed the market and triggered profit-taking, although
the index managed to end above 10,000.

* European shares were flat as new signs of friction in U.S.
budget talks stopped investors from buying on multi-month highs
on key regional indexes.

* Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives may vote
on an alternative tax bill that House Speaker John Boehner said
would extend low tax rates, except on income of $1 million and
above. The White House said President Barack Obama would veto
the proposal, designed to avert Jan. 1 tax hikes.

* The U.S. Commerce Department releases its third and final
estimate gross domestic product estimate at 1330 GMT. The pace
of growth is likely to be revised up to 2.8 percent from 2.7
percent, reflecting a smaller trade deficit, but the composition
of growth will probably continue to point to a slowdown in
activity this quarter.

* The Labor Department issues first-time claims for jobless
benefits for the week ended Dec. 15 at the same time. Economists
in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 357,000 new filings
compared with 343,000 in the prior week.

* The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank publishes December
business activity survey at 1500, forecast to come in at -3.0
versus -10.7 in November.

* The Conference Board’s November leading economic
indicators, also due at 1500, was forecast to show a 0.2 percent
drop compared with a 0.2 percent increase in October.

* IntercontinentalExchange Inc is in talks to buy
NYSE Euronext, the operator of the New York Stock
Exchange, according to a source familiar with the situation on
Wednesday, in a multibillion dollar deal that could help the
commodities exchange take on arch rival CME Group Inc.

* Google Inc agreed to sell set-top TV box maker
Motorola Home to Arris Group Inc for $2.35 billion in
cash and stock, the companies said on Wednesday.

* BlackBerry maker RIM is on track to report its third
straight quarterly loss on Thursday as it struggles to sell its
ageing lineup in a market crowded with Apple iPhones
and a range of devices using Google’s Android software.

* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected Apple
Inc’s ‘pinch-to-zoom’ patent in a preliminary ruling that
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd argues supports its
request for a new trial in the patent war against its rival.

* Top sports clothes maker Nike reports second-quarter
results, expected to show earnings per share of $1 dollar,
steady year on year, and will talk about holiday demand and

* The U.S. Treasury plans to sell its stake in General
Motors Co over the coming year, all but assuring a
multibillion-dollar loss in a move that will end the automaker’s
“Government Motors” era.

* General Motors Corp and PSA Peugeot Citroen have
dropped plans to jointly develop a large car and will base their
alliance on three smaller vehicle projects, the automakers said
on Thursday.

* Food safety authorities have shut down two chicken farms
in eastern China, including one that supplied Yum Brands Inc’s
KFC and McDonald’s Corp, the official Shanghai
Daily reported on Thursday.

* Stephen Gillett, the head of Best Buy Co Inc’s
digital business, is leaving the world’s largest consumer
electronics chain to become chief operating officer of data
protection software company Symantec Corp.

* Activist investor William Ackman confirmed on Wednesday
that he is betting against the stock of Herbalife Ltd in
a move that sent shares of the weight management product company
reeling and sparked a caustic rebuke from its chief executive

* Embattled healthcare technology firm Allscripts
named its board member and former chief operating officer of
rival Cerner Corp Paul Black as its CEO, replacing Glen
Tullman, and said it ended a review of strategic alternatives.

* U.S. mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac may have suffered more than $3 billion in
losses due to manipulation of the benchmark interest rate known
as Libor, according to an internal memo by a federal watchdog.

* The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 98.99
points, or 0.74 percent, to 13,251.97 on Wednesday. The SP 500
lost 10.98 points, or 0.76 percent, to 1,435.81. The
Nasdaq Composite fell 10.17 points, or 0.33 percent, to

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