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Wall Street To Open Lower After China, Empire State Data

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Stocks were poised for a lower open, putting the S&P 500 on track to dip for a second consecutive session after data showed growth in China and manufacturing growth in New York state were slower than expected.

Data showed China's economic recovery unexpectedly slowed in the first quarter, with the annual rate of growth in the world's second-largest economy easing back to 7.7 percent from the 7.9 percent of the previous quarter, below economists' forecast for an 8.0 percent expansion.

Adding to concerns about a slowing global economy, The New York Fed's "Empire State" index of general business conditions fell to 3.05, from 9.24 in March, short of economists' forecasts for a smaller decline to 7 as new orders tumbled.

U.S. stocks dipped on Friday, partly due to weak retail sales and consumer sentiment data, but still managed to notch their second-best weekly performance of the year with a 2.3 percent gain.

"None of the economic data has been very good for the last couple of weeks, when you look at the whole scope of data it looks like we have been going into a slowdown here," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

"I wouldn't say this is over yet, but there are enough indicators out there to really indicate that investors should approach this market with a degree of caution which doesn't seem to exist right now."

Among earnings reports, Citigroup (C.N) shares advanced 2.6 percent to $45.93 after reporting a higher-than-expected 31 percent rise in first-quarter profit .

In deal news, Dish Network Corp (DISH.O), the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider, offered to buy Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) for $25.5 billion in cash and stock, a move that could thwart the proposed acquisition of Sprint by Japan's SoftBank Corp (9984.T). Sprint shares jumped 15.1 percent to $7.16 in premarket trading.

The Chinese data weighed heavily on commodities, with U.S. crude oil down 1.8 percent to $89.69 as it recovered slightly off its lowest level of the year, while gold sank further into bear market territory.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold (FCX.N) lost 4.1 percent to $30.60 and U.S.-listed shares of Randgold Resources (GOLD.O)(RRS.L) stumbled 6.4 percent to $70.44 in premarket trade.

S&P 500 futures fell 5.8 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 35 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 8.25 points.

Later at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT), the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo issues its April housing market index. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 45, versus 44 in March.

Earnings season heats up this week, with 74 companies in the S&P 500 .SPX scheduled to report, including American Express Co (AXP.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Bank of America (BAC.N) and Google Inc (GOOG.O).

Genetic testing equipment maker Life Technologies Corp (LIFE.O) has agreed to a $13.6 billion cash buyout by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N), in one of the year's biggest corporate takeovers. Life Technologies shares climbed 7.9 percent to $73.40 before the opening bell.