Stock futures slide on euro zone, fiscal worries


Stock index futures tumbled on Friday and were on track to post their worst weekly drop in five months as the euro zone crisis was seen hitting France and Germany and investors fretted over a looming U.S. "fiscal cliff."

Growth in Germany, Europe's largest economy, is likely to weaken in the next two quarters as firms postpone investments while France's central bank said it expected the euro zone's second-largest economy to slip into recession as 2012 ends.

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In a speech at 1:05 p.m. EST (1805 GMT), newly reelected President Barack Obama is likely to discuss looming tax increases and government spending cuts - the so-called fiscal cliff - that would go into effect and possibly drive the U.S. economy into recession unless Congress acts to prevent them.

"We're going to get an initial reaction in the first five minutes of his speech," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"The media is focusing on the fiscal cliff, I think, because Wall Street is focusing on it. Taxes really do matter and they change behavior."

The S&P 500 closed Thursday below its 200-day moving average for the first time in five months, a bearish technical signal that could keep stocks under pressure.

S&P 500 futures fell 10.4 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 102 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 15.5 points.

Groupon Inc's results, released Thursday, fell short of Wall Street's expectations as the daily deal company failed to turn around a struggling European business. The company's shares slumped 17 percent in premarket trading Friday.

J.C.Penney shares fell more than 7 percent in premarket trading after the retailer reported a sharper-than-expected decline in quarterly sales at stores open at least a year.

The U.S. Labor Department releases import-export prices for October at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast an unchanged reading for imports and a 0.2 percent rise in export prices.

Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers will release preliminary November consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. (1455 GMT). Economists expect a sentiment reading of 83.0 compared with 82.6 in the final October report.

On a more positive note, mostly dismissed by the market, Chinese data for October showed infrastructure investment accelerated and factory output ran at its fastest in five months.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)