Stock Futures Follow European Markets Into the Red

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U.S. stock-index futures fell solidly Friday as the euro came under pressure amid a round of weak European data. Traders were also awaiting several U.S. economic reports.

Today's Markets 

As of 8:03 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 56 points to 13980, S&P 500 futures dipped 8.3 points to 1505 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 13.3 points to 2725.

The markets all ended February higher, with the S&P posting its fourth-straight monthly advance. However, the mood across equity markets was considerably more somber on Friday.

The euro slumped 0.47% to $1.2996 -- its weakest level against the greenback in two months. Meanwhile, the Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks eurozone blue chips, tumbled 1.5%.

The move lower came as traders parsed through a deluge of weak data from the continent. The unemployment rate in the eurozone edged up 0.1-percentage point to 11.9% in February, with 19 million people out of work across the 17-member currency bloc. The report also highlights the wide gaps between the economies there. Germany, the bloc's powerhouse, has an unemployment rate around 5%, but Spain and Greece are more than five times that.

A report indicating the U.K. manufacturing sector unexpectedly skidded back into contraction territory in February also left traders jittery.

Oftentimes, sharp moves lower in the euro puts downward pressure on dollar-traded commodities. The benchmark U.S. oil contract dropped $1.46, or 1.6%, to $90.59 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline sunk 1.5% to $3.066 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $9.30, or 0.59%, to $1,569 a troy ounce.

Wall Street will get a big batch of U.S. data on the day as well.

A report from the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. ET may show consumer spending having risen 0.2% in January from December, with incomes tumbling 2.2%. January is the kick off of the first quarter, but also when the across-the-board 2% hike in payroll taxes kicked in.

Another report at 9:55 a.m. ET from Reuters and the University of Michigan is forecast to show consumer sentiment having held steady in late February from earlier in the month.

Later, traders will get a key indicator of the U.S. manufacturing sector. The Institute for Supply Management's PMI gauge is expected to have ticked down to 52.5 in February from 53.1 the month before. Readings above 50 point to expansion, while those below indicate contraction.

On the corporate front, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is said to have ended take-private talks with founder Richard Schulze, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) revealed after the close of trading Thursday that it had dismissed its chief executive, Andrew Mason.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 1.5% to 2594, the English FTSE 100 slumped 0.72% to 6314 and the German DAX tumbled 1.1% to 7659.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 ticked up by 0.41% to 11606 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.61% to 22880.