NEW YORK – U.S. stock index futures fell on Monday after the World Bank cut its growth forecasts for East Asia, underscoring concerns about the global economic climate and corporate profits on the cusp of the kickoff of the quarterly earnings season.
The World Bank reduced its growth forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region and said there was a risk the slowdown in China could worsen and last longer than many analysts have forecast.
China, the world's second largest economy, has been hampered by the euro zone debt crisis. Europe is one of China's largest trade partners.
"Given the World Bank outlook on East Asia, the market is taking a defensive tack," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.
"Simply stated, the market has been strong and is looking for an additional driving theme. the World Bank announcement takes a little air out of recent enthusiasm and puts the market on warning."
The third-quarter earnings season will kick off on Tuesday with results from Dow component Alcoa Inc . Analysts expect Alcoa is expected to report a break-even quarter, down from a profit of 15 cents per share a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Recent earnings warnings from large multinationals such as FedEx Corp , Caterpillar Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co , which have cited weakness in Europe and China, have made investors cautious about corporate profits.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday, 91 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 have issued negative outlooks versus 21 positive preannouncements, for a ratio of 4.3, the weakest showing since the third quarter of 2001.
S&P 500 futures fell 5.5 points on Monday and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 45 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 12.5 points.
There are no economic events or S&P 500 companies scheduled to report earnings on Monday, and trading may be light due to the Columbus Day holiday.
Apple Inc shares dipped 0.7 percent to $648.31 in premarket after a report by China Labor Watch, a rights advocate group, that a Foxconn plant in China that makes Apple's iPhone was crippled by a strike. Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, denied the report.
Health insurer UnitedHealth Group said it would buy a 90 percent stake in Amil Participacoes SA
Chemicals maker TPC Group Inc said it received a buyout proposal from Innospec Inc for $721.3 million, topping an offer made by private equity firms First Reserve Corp and SK Capital Partners.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc and American Express on Monday said they were teaming up to offer customers an alternative to debit and checking accounts.
General Motors Co and its China joint ventures sold 244,266 vehicles in the country in September, up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. automaker said.
Asian and European shares also fell in the wake of the World Bank growth forecasts for East Asia.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Leslie Adler)