Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks: GDP jitters knock futures into red

LONDON (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks were signaling a weak open on Friday, amid jitters the reading on fourth-quarter economic growth could be disappointing.

Investors were also awaiting for prominent companies to report ahead of the bell, including Chevron, Eli Lilly and MasterCard.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, -0.47%  slumped 117 points, or 0.7%, to 17,315, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, -0.85%  lost 13.30 points, or 0.7%, to 2,005.20. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NDH5, -0.40%  gave up 11.50 points, or 0.3%, to 4,174.25.

The losses comes a day after all three benchmarks rallied into the close, boosted by a small rebound in oil prices and comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen that the U.S. economy is “strong”.

GDP jitters: U.S. stocks, however, struggled to maintain the late-session optimism from Thursday, with investors getting concerned the first estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product will miss the mark. Analysts polled by MarketWatch expect GDP to have grown by 3.2% in the final three months of 2014, down from 5% in the previous quarter. The report comes out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Of equal — or maybe even higher — importance, is the quarterly employment-cost index, a relatively lesser-known report on workers’ wages and benefits that comes out at the same time. Joseph Lavorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, said in a recent research note that this data could be more important than GDP since wages are key to the outlook for when, or if, the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates.

The Chicago purchasing managers’ index is due at 9:45 a.m., followed by consumer-sentiment numbers at 9:55 a.m.

Friday’s Earnings: The earnings calender continued with a busy premarket line-up on Friday. Chevron Corp. CVX, -0.68%  is projected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $ 1.64 a share, according to a consensus survey by FactSet.

MasterCard Inc. MA, +0.79%  is forecast to post fourth-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, while Eli Lilly & Co. LLY, +1.61%  is expected to report earnings of 73 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Tyson Foods Inc. TSN, +0.07%  is likely to report fiscal first-quarter earnings of 73 cents a share and Xerox Corp. XRX, +2.42%  is forecast to post fourth-quarter earnings of 29 cents a share.

Movers and shakers: Inc. AMZN, +2.59%  surged 11% ahead of the bell after saying late Thursday it earned 45 cents a share in the fourth quarter, significantly outdistancing the FactSet consensus estimate of 19 cents a share

Google Inc. GOOG, +0.13%  climbed 1.3% in premarket trade after the tech giant late Thursday reported a rise in revenue and profit, although both missed analyst expectations.

Visa Inc. V, +0.67%  could also be active. The credit-card company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $ 2.53 a share after the closing bell on Thursday, ahead of the $ 2.49 a share forecast by analysts.

Biogen Idec Inc. BIIB, +0.59%  and Blackstone Group LP BX, +0.33% may also move after both reported on Thursday.

Shake Shack Inc. SHAK, +0.00%  is set to start trading in New York on Friday, having priced its initial public offering at $ 21 a share on Thursday. The price was well above expectations.

Other markets: European markets were mostly lower after consumer-price data for January showed the eurozone slipped deeper into negative inflation.

In Asia, Japanese stocks rose, while Shanghai stocks fell for a fourth day.

And in Russia, the ruble slid against the dollar after the country’s central bank cut interest rates to 15% from 17%. The dollar USDRUB, +2.58%  bought 69.933 rubles, up from 68.902 on Thursday. The dollar traded mixed against other major currencies.

Metals rose cross the board, while crude-oil prices climbed back above $ 45 a barrel. – Top Stories

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