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Stock futures fall, point to lower opening

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[April 20, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are falling Friday as investors appear set to pause after six straight days of gains.

Major indexes are pointing toward their first pullback of the week even as earnings continue to beat expectations. Stocks have been steadily rising in recent months on growing signs that the economy is recovering, albeit slowly.

Asian markets retreated on concerns that strong economic growth could lead to inflation and higher interest rates. European markets rose slightly.

In the U.S., earnings remain a primary focus of investors. Aside from quarterly results, traders will also get reports that are expected to show a rise housing construction and consumer sentiment.


Google Inc. reported better-than-expected profit after the market closed Thursday, yet investors have been selling shares in premarket trading. Investors are worried about increased spending at the Internet giant.

General Electric Co.'s first-quarter results also topped expectations. Unlike Google, investors found the results uplifting. The industrial and financial conglomerate said losses are beginning to moderate in its battered lending division, GE Capital.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 16, or 0.1 percent, to 11,080. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 3.50, or 0.3 percent, to 1,205.00, while Nasdaq 100 index futures dropped 5.50, or 0.3 percent, to 2,029.25.

Google shares fell $25.30, or 4.2 percent, to $570.00 in premarket trading. GE shares rose 35 cents to $19.85.

Investors looking for fresh economic reports will turn their attention to a Commerce Department report on housing construction that is expected to show housing starts and permits to build new homes both rose in March.

Economists polled Thomson Reuters expect housing construction rose 6.1 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units. Applications for building permits, a good gauge of future activity, likely rose 2.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 630,000 last month. The report is due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Data on housing has been mixed in recent months, indicating the sector that helped push the country into recession is still struggling to find its footing.

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The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index likely improved this month. A strong, healthy consumer is considered vital to a sustained recovery. There have been signs in recent months, such as rising retail sales, that consumers are becoming more comfortable with their finances.

Stocks rose Thursday after UPS Inc. provided an encouraging earnings forecast and manufacturing data showed continued growth in the sector. The manufacturing sector has shown consistent growth in recent months, unlike the housing market, which has struggled to rebound.

The Federal Reserve said industrial production rose for the ninth straight month in March and two regional manufacturing reports showed growth as well.


Meanwhile, bond prices rose Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.82 percent from 3.84 percent late Thursday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold and oil both fell.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 0.2 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.2 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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