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Stock futures fall on earnings worries

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[April 08, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures pointed to a lower open Wednesday, reflecting declines in overseas markets and a bigger-than-expected loss by Alcoa.

The aluminum maker -- the first of the 30 companies that make up the Dow to report quarterly results -- said late Tuesday that it lost $497 million in the first quarter as prices for the lightweight metal fell. The loss was larger than the average expectation of Wall Street analysts, and investors it may be a sign of more dismal results to come.

In what could be a positive for Wall Street, Pulte Homes Inc. and Centex Corp. said Wednesday they will combine in a $1.3 billion stock-for-stock deal that will create the nation's largest homebuilding company. The news proves that deals can still get done, even in one of the more troubled industries of the economy.


Earlier this week, investors had been discouraged after talks for a $7 billion deal between technology giants IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems unraveled.

Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 62, or 0.8 percent, to 7,700. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 5.50, or 0.7 percent, to 808.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures dropped 6.75, or 0.5 percent, to 1,274.

Investors are also awaiting a government report on wholesale inventories, expected at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The report is expected to show that wholesale stockpiles likely fell in February for the sixth straight month as businesses cut back amid declining sales.

Later today, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes from its March meeting that should give further insight into the central bank's numerous efforts to boost lending and its view on the economy.

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Treasurys rose early Wednesday as investors sought the safety of government debt. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.86 percent from 2.90 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar rose against other major currencies. Gold prices also rose.

Light, sweet crude fell $1.60 to $47.55 a barrel in electronic premarket trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 2.7 percent. In late morning trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX index was down 0.9 percent, and France's CAC-40 was down 1.2 percent.

[Associated Press; By SARA LEPRO]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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