US stock futures fall on global economic worries

Aug 16 2011 - 6:52am

NEW YORK -- U.S. stock futures fell Tuesday after more evidence pointed to a slowing global economy and threatened to halt the market's three-day rally.

Germany's economy stalled last quarter, dragging down growth for Europe. That offset strong profit reports from blue-chip U.S. companies, and it may also erase hopes that the market had finally calmed down since Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating less than two weeks ago.

Europe's economy and debt problems have been among global investors' main concerns over the last year and a half. On Tuesday, the European Union reported that economic growth in the 17 countries that use the euro slowed to 0.2 percent between April and June from 0.8 percent in the previous quarter. Germany's growth fell to 0.1 percent from 1.3 percent.

The slower growth will make it even tougher for Spain and other countries to raise revenue. Some European countries have borrowed so much that they may need help repaying debt. The leaders of France and Germany, the eurozone's biggest economies, are meeting Tuesday in Paris to talk about the region's debt problems.

About 90 minutes ahead of the opening of trading, Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 115 points, 1 percent, to 11,288. S&P 500 futures are down 17, or 1.4 percent, to 1,181.40. Nasdaq 100 futures are down 28.25, or 1.3 percent, to 2,178.25. Stock futures don't always accurately predict how markets will open.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rose 1.6 percent in premarket trading after it said net income rose 5.7 percent last quarter from a year ago on strong overseas sales. Earnings growth was stronger than analysts expected, and the world's largest retailer raised its profit forecast for the year.

Home Depot Inc. rose 2.8 percent after it said second-quarter net income rose 14 percent and raised its profit forecast.

Better news on the U.S. economy may come later Tuesday morning. Economists expect a report to show that U.S. industrial production rose in July for the second straight month. Manufacturing had been one of the strongest industries since the recession ended in 2009, but its growth has slowed this year.

Other U.S. economic reports may show that construction activity on new homes is still weak and that prices for imports fell in July.

Stocks have been particularly volatile since last week, after S&P chopped the U.S. from its top AAA credit rating to AA+. The Dow rose or fell by 400 points in the first four days of last week, the first time that has happened.

But the Dow rallied 213 points on Monday after a flurry of acquisitions, highlighted by Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. It marked the Dow's first three-day gain since July 1. Its rise of 763 points over the three days was the Dow's biggest since November 2008, during the depths of the financial crisis.

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