US futures head lower as China scrambles
NEW YORK (AP) -- US stock futures slipped Friday ahead of what many believe may be weaker-than-expected trade and industrial data from China over the weekend.
China has worked feverishly to maintain its economic momentum with a series of measures over the past several days as growth hits three-year lows.
Those efforts continued Friday, when China cut state-set gasoline and diesel prices for the second time in a month by more than 5 percent.
After three days of gains in U.S. indexes, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 59 points to 12,347. Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 6 points to 1,304 and Nasdaq futures gave up 9 points to 2,522.
Also on Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit narrowed to $50.1 billion in April. It was the first decline in U.S. exports in five months. Sales declined to Europe, China and Brazil.
Markets fell overseas, starting in Asia.
Mainland Chinese shares lost ground, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling for a fifth straight trading day, shedding 0.5 percent, or 11.68 points, to 2,281.45, the lowest closing in more than two months.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 2.1 percent to close at 8,459.26. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 1,835.64.
The sell-off continued in Europe, where Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.88 percent to 5,399. Germany's DAX lost 0.84 percent to 6,092 and France's CAC-40 fell 1.05 percent to 3,038.
On Thursday, China made its first interest cut rate in almost four years, and also said it would allow banks to pay deposit rates higher than the state-mandated level, also a first.
While that may shift money to households and boost consumer spending, some watching the maneuvers closely suspect that government leaders feel more urgency ahead of May trade and industrial data due out this weekend that might be even weaker than pessimistic forecasts expected.
In the U.S., economists expect the Commerce Department will report that businesses slowed their restocking of store shelves this year following a big jump in inventory building at the end of last year.
That report is due at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Also on Friday, ahead of what may be a contentious shareholders meeting, Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced that it was selling pipeline assets in three separate deals for a total of more than $4 billion in cash.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)