Stock Futures Down Slightly After Day Of Big Gains

By Salon Staff

Published January 4, 2012 1:18PM (EST)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures are retreating slightly Wednesday after a day of heady gains.

Dow futures fell 0.2 percent at 12,311 while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 0.3 percent to 1,268.50. Futures for the Nasdaq composite were flat at 2,316.

Stock markets elsewhere fell slightly after a buoyant start to the new year triggered by encouraging economic data from the U.S. and around the world. The Dow Jones industrial average closed Tuesday at a five-month high.

The U.S. economy is likely to remain the focal point up through Friday's key jobs report for December, though worries over Europe's debt crisis will likely keep a lid on any enthusiasm.

Economic reports due later Wednesday include U.S. factory orders for November. Automakers are set to release December sales figures.

In Europe, the DAX was down 0.7 percent Wednesday at 6,123.60 while the CAC-40 in France was down 0.8 percent at 3,220.07. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.1 percent to 5,696.44.

The euro was also down slightly after solid gains Tuesday — it fell 0.3 percent to $1.3015, still markedly up from last week's 15-month low of $1.2857.

Barring any surprising developments in Europe's debt crisis, the focus is likely to continue to center on the U.S. and a raft of economic data that culminates Friday with the closely watched U.S. non-farm payroll figures for December.

A strong U.S. manufacturing survey, which showed the sector growing at its fastest rate in six months, fueled hopes that the employment figures, which often set market tone for a week or two, will be strong.

The consensus in the markets is that the U.S. economy generated another 150,000 or so jobs during the month — solid, if unspectacular, jobs creation.

Germany successfully auctioned €4.06 billion ($5.28 billion) in 10-year bonds despite concerns over the debt crisis that's afflicting the 17-nation eurozone. Demand for the bonds outstripped supply as investors placed bids for €5.14 billion of the debt securities. The average interest yield was a low 1.93 percent, down from 1.98 percent in November.

Greece remains a key point of concern as it tries to negotiate a second massive financial bailout that involves private creditors being asked to forgive 50 percent of their Greek holdings. Many in the markets think that's not enough.

Earlier, Asian stocks ended the day with gains, following a strong session on Wall Street.

Japan's Nikkei 225 showed renewed life as it posted a 1.2 percent gain to 8,560.11. The battered benchmark lost nearly 20 percent of its value in 2011 — a year marred by a tsunami and nuclear plant disaster, made all the more difficult by record-high levels for the yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and South Korea's Kospi slipped after strong gains a day earlier. The Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent to 18,727.31, while the Kospi was down 0.5 percent at 1,866.22.

Oil prices gave up some of Tuesday's gains when they surged through the $100-a-barrel mark as equities advanced and tensions over the Persian Gulf between the U.S. and Iran escalated. Benchmark crude for February delivery fell 98 cents to $101.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Salon Staff

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