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U.S. Stock Futures Decline as Euro Zone, Fed Weigh

02/21/2013 | 09:03am US/Eastern
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--Stock futures tilt lower; DJIA down 19, S&P off three

--Jobless claims higher than expected in latest week

--CPI unchanged, and core CPI climbs 0.3%, more than 0.2% expected

By Tomi Kilgore and Alexandra Scaggs

NEW YORK--Stocks looked set to open lower, as a report on the U.S. labor market came in worse than expected and weak euro-zone data weighed on global markets.

About 60 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 19 points, or 0.1%, to 13870. On Wednesday, the Dow fell 108 points, or 0.8%, the second-biggest point and percentage decline of the year, after the Federal Reserve hinted it may end its stimulative asset-purchase program sooner than expected.

Standard & Poor's 500-stock index futures gave up three points, or 0.2%, to 1504 and Nasdaq 100 futures lost nine points, or 0.3%, to 2729.

Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.

Initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 362,000 more than the 350,000 expected. The consumer price index for January was unchanged on the month, and increased by 0.3% excluding volatile food and energy costs.

At 10 a.m., existing-home sales for January are expected to decline 1% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.89 million; the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's February index of business activity is seen rising to +3.0 from January's -5.8; and the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for January is forecast to gain 0.3%.

In corporate news, shares of Wal-Mart gained 1.3% in premarket trading after the blue-chip discount retailer reported earnings that topped analyst estimates, helping to offset a first-quarter earnings outlook that was below current analyst projections.

Among other Dow components, Hewlett-Packard declined 0.3%. The technology company reports fiscal first-quarter results after the closing bell.

European markets were broadly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 1.2%, on the back of disappointing economic data and worries that the Fed may soon start winding down its asset purchases. Markit's preliminary composite purchasing-managers' index for the euro zone fell to 47.3 in February from January's 48.6, and below expectations of 48.5. Readings below 50 indicate contraction. Within the euro zone, Italy's FTSE MIB skidded 2.6% to a two-month low and Germany's DAX slid 1.6%.

Write to Tomi Kilgore at tomi.kilgore@dowjones.com and Alexandra Scaggs at alexandra.scaggs@dowjones.com

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