Futures Slump, But Wall Street Eyes Solid Monthly Advance


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U.S. stock-index futures signaled the markets could open in the red on Friday, but equities were still set to cap May with a hefty monthly advance.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 80 points to 15239, S&P 500 futures dipped 8.3 points to 1645 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 12.8 points to 2997.

The old adage "sell in May and go away" seemed to have little effect on Wall Street this month. The Dow and S&P 500 have both climbed more than 3%, while the Nadaq has soared close to 5%. It would mark the first May gain for the Dow and S&P in four years, and mark the seventh-straight monthly advance for the S&P 500.

Improvements across the U.S. economy -- from the labor market to housing -- coupled with generally upbeat corporate earnings helped drive the charge higher. Still, tensions have mounted toward the end of the month that as the economic picture brightens, the Federal Reserve may be forced to take its foot off the economic accelerator.

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Friday's move lower started in Europe, where major bourses in the UK, Germany and France were down less than 1%. Traders broadly pointed to profit-taking as the impetus for the decline, along with anxiety ahead of decisions next week from several global central banks.

Then the downward momentum accelerated on a disappointing report on the U.S. consumer sector.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending fell 0.2% in April from March, the first decline since May 2012. Economists were expecting an increase of 0.1%. Personal income was unchanged for the month, compared to expectations of a 0.1% advance.

Later, at 9:45 a.m. ET, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago releases its gauge of manufacturing activity in the U.S. Midwest. The sector is expected to have held steady in May after contracting slightly the month before. The more closely-watched national ISM report is due out next week.

Finally, Reuters and the University of Michigan provide the latest data from their survey on consumer sentiment. Economists expect sentiment to have held steady in late May from earlier in the month.

In commodities, oil prices slumped after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it will hold its production quota at 30 million barrels a day, broadly matching expectations. The benchmark U.S. contract slumped 77 cents, or 0.83%, to $92.82 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.17% to $2.808 a gallon. Gold edged lower by 90 cents, or 0.06%, to $1,411 a troy ounce.

On the corporate front, Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) filed a proxy with the Securities and Exchange Commission, once again urging shareholders to vote for a go-private plan by founder Michael Dell and private-equity player Silver Lake Partners.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.7% to 2780, the English FTSE 100 sold off by 0.91% to 6596 and the German DAX slumped 0.7% to 8342.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rebounded 1.4% to 13775 and the Chinese Hang Seng tilted lower by 0.41% to 22392.

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