Stock Futures Pull Back After Two-Day Rally


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Stock-index futures pointed to a solidly lower open for Wall Street as traders locked in profits following a big rally and weighed disappointing Chinese economic data and strong bank earnings.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:33 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dipped 73 points to 12877, S&P 500 futures dropped 8.2 points to 1378 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 12.8 points to 2726.

In the past two days, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have all tacked on more than 2%, helping to offset big losses from earlier in the week.

China's economy, the second biggest in the world, expanded at an annualized pace of 8.1% in the first quarter, a sharp drop from the 8.9% registered in the last quarter of 2011. Economists were looking for a slightly better reading of 8.4%.

Asian shares managed to shrug off the disappointing data as market participants are already looking forward to the see where growth is headed in the current quarter. Analysts also cited the improving chances the Beijing will act to stimulate growth. Although, some already see improving conditions there.

"Credit and money data suggest that financing conditions are already improving, which should in turn help stabilise economic growth and reduce the need for aggressive stimulus," analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a note to clients following the report.

Meanwhile, earnings season in the U.S. is revving up. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) revealed after the closing bell on Thursday a first-quarter EPS that crushed analysts expectations, while revenue came in-line with the consensus view.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), the biggest U.S. bank by assets, weighed in on Friday morning with results that topped forecasts on the top and bottom lines. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) revealed a first-quarter EPS of 75 cents on revenue of $21.6 billion, beating analysts’ expectations of 73 cents on $20.51 billion.

On the economic front, prices at the consumer level increased by 0.3% in March, or 0.2% excluding the food and energy components. The results come in-line with Wall Street's forecasts. Data released on Thursday showed there was no change in wholesale prices last month against expectations of a mild pick up.

Later in the morning, markets will get a look at how consumer sentiment is holding up so far in April. Expectations are for the Reuters/University of Michigan gauge to have held steady from the end of March to the beginning of April. Analysts will be looking to see if rising gasoline prices are beginning to take a toll on consumers' confidence. Retail stocks, in particular, can be affected by these data.

Energy futures were mixed. Crude oil traded in New York fell 25 cents, or 0.23%, to $103.41 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose a penny, or 0.17%, to $3.362 a gallon.

In metals, gold dropped $7.00, or 0.42%, to $1,674 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.89%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.18% to 5700 and the German DAX slumped 0.58% to 6704.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.2% to 9638 and the Chinese Hang Seng soared 1.8% to 20701.

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