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Stock-index futures fell deeper into the red on Friday on a report suggesting Standard & Poor's plans on imminently downgrading several eurozone countries.
As of 9:10 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 80 points to 12332, S&P 500 futures dipped 10.3 points to 1282 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 11.3 points to 2367.
There were a plethora of corporate, economic and eurozone headlines to parse through on Friday.
A report from Dow Jones Newswires, citing European Union sources, saying Standard & Poor's may be planning on imminently downgrading several eurozone countries heightened fears about Europe. S&P would not comment on the report, Dow Jones said.
There has been talk among market participants for weeks that the ratings company may slash France's pristine 'AAA' rating, although such a move has not occurred yet. Such a ratings move could potentially make it harder for the European Union to assist embattled sovereigns because it may lessen the rating of the bloc's bailout vehicle that is supported by the strongest EU countries.
On the U.S. front, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) was the first major U.S. bank to report its fourth-quarter earnings.
The banking giant posted a profit of $3.72 billion, or 90 cents per share, meeting expectations, but falling short of the $4.83 billion, or $1.12 a share, it earned in the same period a year prior. The company's revenue came in at $22.2 billion, slightly short of the $23 billion analysts anticipated. Shares of the Dow component were down 2.6% in pre-market trading.
The U.S. trade gap rose to $47.8 billion in November -- the highest since June -- from $43.3 billion the month prior as exports fell and imports jumped. Economists expected the deficit to hit $45 billion. The difference between exports and imports directly affects broader measures of economic growth, such as gross domestic product.
Consumer confidence probably picked up in early January from December, with the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment gauge hitting 71.5, economists said ahead of the report at 9:55 a.m. ET.
Traders were also paying close attention to the European sovereign debt markets. Italy saw its borrowing costs fall at an auction on Friday following a successful offering in Spain the day earlier. The country sold three-year paper at a yield of 4.83%, sharply lower than the 5.62% it paid at a similar auction. Still, the country only sold its targeted amount of 4.75 billion euros at the auction, following Spain, which sold double its target.
The euro was off 0.63% to $1.2733, while the U.S. dollar was up 0.5% against six world currencies.
Energy markets were to the downside. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York dipped 94 cents, or 0.98%, to $98.19 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline fell 0.14% to $2.73 a gallon.
In metals, gold fell $5.90, or 0.36%, to $1641 a troy ounce. U.S. Treasury prices were up, pushing yields lower. The benchmark 10-year note yields 1.904% from 1.923%.
European blue chips rose 0.53%, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.4% to 5,640 and the German DAX gained 0.08% to 6,184.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.4% to 8,500 and the Chinese Hang Seng tacked on 0.57% to 19,204.