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Stocks futures point lower

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[September 20, 2007]  NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks pointed toward a lower opening Thursday as Wall Street paused in its rally ahead of testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the release of unemployment data and more investment bank earnings.

Bernanke, along with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. EDT about the mortgage and credit markets before the House Financial Services Committee. After the Fed's big half-point cut in its target fed funds rate, which lifted the Dow Jones industrials about 400 points over the past two days, investors will be listening for hints of further cuts.

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Before Bernanke speaks, Wall Street will examine the Labor Department's 8:30 a.m. report on jobless claims last week, particularly given August's surprising decrease in payrolls. Economists surveyed by Thomson Financial, on average, predict a slight rise in claims.

Investors will also continue to scrutinize major investment banks' earnings to see how they weathered the stock volatility and tight credit environment of the tumutuous third quarter. Thursday will bring results from Bear Stearns Cos., which is expected to post earnings of $1.78 per share on revenue of $1.64 billion, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., anticipated to post earnings of $4.35 per share on $9.57 billion in revenue.

So far, U.S. brokerages have revealed mixed results. On Tuesday, Lehman Brothers reported a modest 3 percent profit decline that relieved investors, but Wednesday, Morgan Stanley reported a disappointing 17 percent drop in profit.

Dow Jones industrial average futures expiring in December fell 37, or 0.27 percent, to 13,861. S&P 500 index futures fell 5.80, or 0.38 percent, to 1,535.60, and Nasdaq 100 Index futures fell 7.50, or 0.36 percent, to 2,056.50.

In other economic data, the Conference Board releases its August index of leading economic indicators, and economists anticipate a decline compared with July.

In corporate news, Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. and Borse Dubai have reached a deal under which Nasdaq will take over Nordic bourse operator OMX AB, and Borse Dubai buys about 20 percent of Nasdaq and 28 percent of the London stock exchange.

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Crude oil prices were poised to launch further into record territory in premarket trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, rising 31 cents to $82.24.

Gold prices also rose, extending their recent streak.

Meanwhile, the dollar fell to a new low against the euro. The euro traded above $1.40 for the first time since the 13-nation currency was introduced in 1999.

In European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.76 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.50 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.92 percent.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index rose 0.20 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.57 percent.


On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com/

[Associated Press; by Madlen Read]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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