Stock Futures Lower as Traders Brace for Busy Data Week

Dow Jones Newswires

Wall Street was setting up for a slightly weaker start on Monday, as investors continued to grapple with what last week's disappointing jobs data means for the Federal Reserve's plans to wind down its economic stimulus. The Federal budget is the only data due for release.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27 points, or 0.2%, to 16354, while those for the Standard & Poor's 500 index eased 5.1 points to 1832.60. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index fell 10.25 points, or 0.3%, to 3551.25.

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At 2 p.m. EST comes the Federal budget for December, but ahead it's a busy week for data, with retail sales and inflation set to be the top watched among investors.

Investors may spend much of the session and the week looking back after the Labor Department reported on Friday that December saw the slowest monthly pace of jobs growth in three years. Wall Street stocks finished mostly higher on Friday, erasing losses that came early on with the jobs data.

"This either suggests that investors aren't concerned about the rate of asset purchases any more, or that they don't think these numbers change anything, in respect to future tapering," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari U.K., in a note of the market's gains on Friday.

European and Asian stocks rose on Monday. Mr. Erlam said markets seem to be "still stuck in a very unusual environment in which investors can't decide what is actually more beneficial for the stock markets, positive fundamentals or more quantitative easing."

Earnings will provide some distraction for investors this week, with big bank names such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) scheduled to report.

Within other markets, gold and oil prices were lower, while the dollar pushed higher.