China Data Weigh on Stock Futures

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U.S. stock-index futures dipped into the red on Friday after considerably weaker-than-expected trade data from the world's No.2 economy weighed on traders' sentiment.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 51 points to 13087, S&P 500 futures dipped 6.3 points to 1395 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 9.5 points to 2708.

The S&P 500 has ended in the green for five days in a row and is sitting at it highest level since May 1. Indeed, the broad-market average is up 1.7% for the month and 11.6% for the year as of Thursday's close.

The struggling world economy has come sharply back into focus on Friday. Export growth in China plunged to a year-over-year rate of 1% in July from 11.3% in June. Economists were expecting a much stronger reading of 8%. Import expansion also slowed down to 4.7% from 6.3%.

"The across-the-board deceleration in July exceeded our expectations," analysts at Barclays wrote in a note to clients following the report. They noted, however, that the generally downbeat data may spark policy action from Beijing.

"We think policymakers may be more inclined to stabilise growth owing to concerns about job losses," they wrote. "An imminent monetary policy move, such as rate cuts, cannot be ruled out."

On the U.S. front, the Labor Department reported import prices fell 0.6% in July,  the fourth straight month of declines. Export prices ticked up 0.5% last month, more than analysts expected. On a year-to-year basis, import prices were down 3.2% in the steepest monthly decline since October 2009. Export prices fell 1.2% on the same basis.

In corporate news, shares of J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) tumbled after the retailer posted a much wider-than-expected quarterly loss on a steep drop in sales. Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson, who formerly ran Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail division, has been working to turn the ailing retailer around, but has yet to show signs of success from a financial perspective.

Commodities market were broadly lower on the back of the weak data from China. Crude oil traded in New York fell $1.30, or 1.4%, to $92.07 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 1% to $2.97 a gallon.

In metals, gold slumped $8.30, or 0.51%, $1,612 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.78% to 2418, the English FTSE 100 slumped 0.28% to 5835 and the German DAX dipped 0.73% to 6914.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sold off by 0.97% to 8891 and the Chinese Hang Seng slid 0.66% to 20136.