Bloomberg News

U.S. Stock Futures Pare Drop on Housing Starts, Jobless Claims

June 16, 2011

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures pared losses after housing starts topped economists’ estimates and jobless claims decreased more than forecast, tempering concern about a slowdown in the economy.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in September slipped 0.2 percent to 1,257 after sliding 0.5 percent earlier. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures lost 0.3 percent to 11,795.

Work began on 560,000 houses at an annual pace, up 3.5 percent from the prior month and exceeding the 545,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the Commerce Department showed. Building permits, a sign of future construction, also increased.

Jobless claims declined by 16,000 to 414,000 in the week ended June 11, Labor Department figures showed. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected 420,000 filings, according to the median forecast. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those receiving extended payments decreased.

U.S. stocks plunged yesterday, sending the S&P 500 down 1.7 percent to a three-month low and threatening to erase its 2011 gain, as European officials failed to agree on a rescue plan for Greece and reports showed manufacturing in the New York region unexpectedly shrank, while confidence among homebuilders slumped.

The S&P 500 is on course for a seventh straight week of losses, the longest losing streak in a decade, as jobs and manufacturing data spurred concern that the U.S. economic recovery is faltering.

Futures followed European stocks lower earlier today as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he will seek a confidence vote as he battles to pass austerity measures demanded by international lenders.

The S&P 500 has tumbled 7.2 percent from an almost three- year high at the end of April as data on manufacturing, employment growth and housing trailed economists’ estimates and investors prepared for the end of the Fed’s $600 billion bond- purchase program known as quantitative easing.

The weakening economic reports triggered concern that analysts are too optimistic as they project 20 percent earnings growth in 2011 on a 9.7 percent increase in revenue, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The S&P 500 is trading at 12.7 times forecast 2011 earnings, the lowest multiple in almost a year.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Regan at mregan12@bloomberg.net


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