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Stocks set to continue slide on economic worries

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[August 31, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are set to continue their slide Tuesday as investors prepare for more disappointing news about the economy.

HardwareRegional manufacturing activity in the Midwest is expected to have slowed this month, similar to declines in other parts of the country. Consumer confidence likely remained at low levels in August. And, a report on home prices is expected to show prices in 20 major metropolitan areas did not grow as fast in June as they did in May.

There has been growing concern throughout the month that the economic recovery is slowing to the point where the country could fall back into recession. Investors have been regularly been selling shares in August as expectations for slowing growth will eventually cut into corporate profits. The Dow Jones industrial average has dropped 4.4 percent during August.

Declines in markets worldwide could also be contributing to the downbeat mood Tuesday. Japanese stocks tumbled to a 16-month low a day after sharp gains as the yen continues to hover near a 15-year high against the dollar. Many Japanese companies like Sony, Panasonic and Toyota rely heavily on exports, so a stronger yen cuts into profits. European markets followed Japan's Nikkei stock average lower.

Again investors poured money into the relative safety of Treasurys because of worries about a slowdown in global growth. That drove interest rates lower.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 29, or 0.3 percent, to 9,950. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 2.80, or 0.3 percent, to 1,042.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 6.25, or 0.4 percent, to 1,762.50.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.51 percent from 2.53 percent late Monday. Its yield is often used as a gauge to set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index likely fell in August to 57 from 62.3 last month. The drop in the index would follow other regional manufacturing indexes that showed activity in the sector slowing in other parts of the country throughout the month.

Manufacturing had shown some of the most consistent growth during the first half of the year, so the slowdown in the industry has been particularly troubling and added to worries about the pace of growth for the remainder of 2010.

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Consumers also remain uncertain about the economy, which has kept consumer confidence readings low. The latest reading on confidence is expected to show little change in August, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The consumer confidence index likely inched up to 50.5 from 50.4 last month.

Confidence has remained low as people worry about their jobs. That has cut into spending, which is the primary driver of the nation's economy. Until unemployment drops, consumers are likely to keep spending in check, which will be a drag on the recovery.

The Labor Department's key monthly reading on employment is due out at the end of the week and expected to show private employers remain hesitant to add workers. The unemployment rate is expected to have risen to 9.6 percent in August from 9.5 percent in July.

Like the jobs market, the housing industry remains weak. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index likely grew at a slower year-over-year rate in June than it did in May. Prices were likely hurt by the expiration of the government's home buyer tax credit, which provided a huge lift to sales earlier this year. Sales have tumbled since the credit expired.


Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 3.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.9 percent, Germany's DAX index dropped 0.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.9 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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