The Day Ahead: Awaiting Big Economic Reports

 | Sep 30, 2011 | 8:30 AM EDT
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In the Headlines

Global traders were waving goodbye to the third quarter by selling shares. NYSE and Nasdaq futures pointed to a lower open Friday, spurred in part by European debt worries, as usual. Traders were awaiting some high-profile U.S. economic reports on the docket for today.

Overseas, Friday brought more carnage to major indices. Asian stocks ended sharply lower. In Hong Kong, property developers were hit hard on worries that the government will move to slow the industry's growth. Asian financials also fell hard, dragging down the indices.

European stocks also were poised to end the third quarter with a thud. Here, too, financials slumped as Thursday's optimism about the eurozone bailout fund faded, and traders resumed their fretting about banks' exposure to Greek debt.

Markets are reflecting increasing sentiment that even as bailout money is being approved for Greece, it's not enough, and the nation is still headed for a default.

Economic Docket

The week wraps up with some closely watched U.S. economic data. At 8:30 a.m. EDT, the Commerce Department's is set to release its report on personal income and personal spending for August. Economists are eyeing an income gain of 0.1% for last month and a spending bump of 0.2% -- both smaller than July's increases.

At 9:45 a.m., the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index is due out. This report is often viewed as a precursor to the Institute for Supply Management's national manufacturing index, which is due out Monday. Economists see Chicago PMI coming in below the prior reading of 56.5.

Ten minutes later is the University of Michigan's final revision to its September consumer sentiment index. Analysts are eying a level close to the previous reading, 57.8.

Commodities Corner

Gold, which notched gains on Thursday, built on that upside momentum ahead of Wall Street's open this morning. The precious metal advanced $6.70 to $1,624 per ounce in electronic trade.

Silver, too, was getting a bounce after a selloff in recent weeks. Early Friday, silver rose $0.013 per ounce to $30.54.

Industrial metal copper, sensitive to Chinese economic forecasts, dropped $0.025 per pound, to $3.22. Copper has gotten hit on growing worries that China's economy is contracting at a faster pace than earlier expected.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell $0.57 in early Nymex trade, to $81.57 per barrel.

Early Movers

With the quarter winding down, it's the calm before the earnings storm. There are no significant reports due out today, but the pace will begin to pick up again next week, leading up to the onslaught later in the month.

Premarket price gainers Friday included DJIA component Alcoa (AA), advancing $0.04, or 0.40%, to $10.10. The stock is working on its sixth month in a row of downside trade.

Newmont Mining (NEM) also advanced $0.04, a fractional gain, to $62.56 in early trade. The move in the Colorado-based gold miner came on the heels of this morning's gains in the underlying commodity.

Newmont shares have shown some wide price swings recently, but have been getting support at their 10-week moving average. The stock has pulled back sharply from its all-time high of $71.25, which it reached on Sept. 20.

An early downside mover was S&P 500 component Micron Technologies (MU). The stock tumbled $0.34, 5.79%, to $5.53, following an unexpected fourth-quarter loss, which it reported late Thursday.



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