- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Wall Street headed for a lower open on Monday as investors cautiously await the beginning of first-quarter earnings season this week.

U.S. stock futures, which got an early boost from advances in overseas markets, gave up the early gains and dipped slightly ahead of the open. Signs of trouble in talks between IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. weighed on the market.

Investors have been more optimistic in recent weeks, sending the Dow Jones industrials up 22.5 percent since early March, as economic data has shown some signs of improvement, and as governments around the globe make efforts to end the worldwide recession.

This week, investors will begin pouring over first-quarter earnings for more clues on where the economy is headed _ and analysts warn that worse-than-expected reports could rattle the market. Even more important than companies’ results will be their forecasts for the remainder of the year. Sectors that will be in particular focus include banking, retail, technology and industrial.

Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. kicks off earnings season on Tuesday. There are no economic reports or major earnings scheduled for Monday.

Meanwhile, IBM’s offer to buy Sun Microsystems appeared to be in jeopardy, adding to the market’s jitters. Talks were in their final stages in recent days, but The Associated Press learned that IBM took its $7 billion offer off the table on Sunday after Sun terminated IBM’s status as its exclusive negotiating partner.

The Dow Jones industrial futures fell 35, or 0.4 percent, to 7,948, after rising as much as 64 points earlier. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 4.60, or 0.6 percent, to 836.00, and the Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 6.25, or 0.5 percent, to 1,310.00.

On Friday, the Dow rose 39 points to close above the 8,000 mark for the first time in nearly two months, logging a fourth straight week of gains and its best performance since 1933.

Even a bleak jobs report on Friday wasn’t enough to derail Wall Street’s newfound confidence that has lifted the major indexes from 12-year lows in early March.

The financial sector, which has largely carried the recent rally, will remain in top focus, as investors await results of the government’s stress tests of the nation’s biggest banks. The stress tests, which aim to determine which banks might be in need of more capital if economic conditions worsen, are expected to be complete by the end of this month.

Over the weekend, London-based bank HSBC raised about $18 billion in a successful stock offering.

U.S. Treasurys rose slightly early Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.89 percent from 2.90 percent late Friday.

The dollar fell against other major currencies. Gold prices also fell.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery slipped 47 cents to $52.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 3.1 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.03 percent, while Germany’s DAX index and France’s CAC-40 each gained 0.6 percent.


On the Net:

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

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

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