Futures Signal More Pain as Markets Brace for Jobs Report

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U.S. stock futures dipped lower Friday morning as Wall Street struggled to bounce back from its worst day in more than two years and traders brace for another potentially ugly jobs report.

Today's Markets

As of 8:21 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 43 points, or 0.38%, to 11328, the Standard & Poor's 500 futures declined 2.50 points, or 0.21%, to 1196.50 and the Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 9.50 points, or 0.43%, to 2200.00.

Economic fears engulfed Wall Street on Thursday as the Dow plummeted 513 points, or 4.31% -- its steepest selloff since February 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis.

The wave of selling brought back memories of the market meltdown of three years ago and knocked the blue chips into the red on the year, leaving them at their lowest close since early December 2010. All three major indexes landed in correction territory, signaling an alarming 10% decline from recent highs. They still have a ways to go before bear-market territory, which is defined as a 20% plunge from recent highs.

All eyes on Friday were glued on the monthly jobs report, which economists believe will reveal the U.S. added just 75,000 jobs in July, up from June's anemic growth but still well below the levels needed to significantly lower the unemployment rate. Consensus forecasts call for the unemployment rate staying stagnant at 9.2%, while private payrolls are expected to have risen by 100,000, up from 57,000 in June.

Analyst will be watching closely for how the markets react to either a "good" or "bad" number. Some believe a worse-than-expected payrolls figure -- or even a contraction -- may actually spark buying because traders will bet the ugly report will force the Federal Reserve to launch a third round of quantitative easing, already dubbed "QE3." The previous two bond-buying exercises proved to be a huge boost to equities.

"The best hope is that the figures show a clear-cut result that either upgrades market optimism about the economy, or raises significantly the chances of fresh Fed action as an insurance for market liquidity," Brown Brothers Harriman wrote in a note.

Wall Street woke up Friday to a sea of red in financial markets around the world, highlighted by a 4.3% plunge in Hong Kong's Hang Seng. That selling appeared to mostly be in response to the scary plunge in the U.S. on Thursday. Global selling has been so dramatic this week that more than $2.5 trillion has been wiped off of world stocks, nearly matching the size of the French economy, Reuters reported.

In a fresh sign of the economic worries, crude oil was on track for a sixth straight daily decline, falling another 83 cents a barrel, or 0.96%, to $85.80. Crude, which is seen as a barometer for the broader economy, has retreated nearly 25% since hitting $113.93 in late April, highlighted by a 5.77% plunge on Thursday to its lowest settle since mid-February.

The recent retreat on Wall Street has been sparked by a lack of confidence in Washington, worries about Europe's debt mess spreading to larger economies and a flurry of economic indicators signaling the U.S. recovery is on the verge of stalling or even going in reverse. Recent reports showed gross domestic product slowed down drastically during the first half of the year and manufacturing activity barely expanded in July.

Worries about a double-dip recession have sent cash fleeing from risky assets like stocks and bonds and flooding into safe havens like dollars and Treasurys.

Some believe the selling on Wall Street in recent days has been overdone. After all, the Dow has lost more than 1,100 points in just 10 days and the market cap of the index crumbled by $150.4 billion on Thursday alone.

Corporate Movers

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) beat the Street with a 15% rise in fiscal fourth-quarter profits to 84 cents a share. The consumer products giants revenue of $20.86 billion also topped estimates, but its earnings guidance disappointed. P&G also said it can meet its growth targets without making a bid for rival Clorox (NYSE:CLX).

Viacom (NYSE:VIA) revealed a stronger-than-expected 37% jump in third-quarter profits. The parent of MTV and Comedy Central posted non-GAAP EPS of 99 cents on $3.77 billion in revenue, compared with estimates for 86 cents on $3.52 billion.

LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD) ticked higher a day after blowing away the Streets view with a non-GAAP profit of 4 cents a share on a 120% surge in revenue to $121 million. The professional networking site, which went public in May, also forecasted stronger-than-expected revenue.

Global Markets

The British FTSE 100 2.21 % to 5,273.74, the French CAC 40 dipped 0.39% to 3307.34 and the German DAX fell 2.05% to 6,283.07.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 tumbled 3.72% to 9,299.88 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 4.29% to 20946.10.