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US Stock Futures Slump On Growth Fears

06/04/2012 | 07:39am US/Eastern

By William L. Watts

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch)--U.S. stock index futures fell Monday, with another round of lackluster Chinese survey data adding to worries over global growth prospects, aggravated by last week's lackluster May U.S. nonfarm payrolls data and continued worries over the euro-zone debt crisis.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 50 points to 12,053. S&P 500 Index futures declined 2.2 points to 1,271.70, while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 3 points to 2,452.

China's nonmanufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index for May fell to 55.2 on a 100-point scale in April, according to an official survey released Sunday, easing from 56.1 in April and undercutting hopes the service sector could take up some slack from slowing manufacturing activity.

U.S. stocks fell sharply Friday after May non-farm payrolls showed a much weaker-than-expected May rise of 69,000 and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2%.

Strategists said rising worries about global growth and continuing worries over the fate of Spain's banking sector and the potential impact of a Greek exit from the euro zone combined to keep risk appetite under wraps.

"There was also an expectation of some statement from E.U. and/or G-7 leaders over the weekend to offer reassurance to markets. As it was, there was nothing of substance, with the result that Asian equities were down over 2% today, with the fall in Chinese stocks the biggest for two months," wrote strategists at FxPro.

Asian equities played catch-up on Monday morning, sending Japanese stocks to their lowest level in more than two decades while Hong Kong shares erased year-to-date gains.

European equities traded mostly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index losing 0.3%. London markets are Monday and Tuesday for public holidays.

Central bankers will be in the spotlight this week as weak data stirs speculation of further stimulus measures. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies Thursday before the Joint Economic Committee on the economic outlook and monetary policy.

On Wednesday, the European Central Bank meets in Frankfurt, while the Bank of England concludes its monthly policy meeting on Thursday.

"In the U.S., last Friday's payrolls report was very weak [and] effectively conspired to magnify expectations of further Fed easing against the backdrop of a sharp decline in US equities," said Geoffrey Yu, currency strategist at UBS.

The U.S. economic calendar is light this week. April factory orders data is set for release at 10 a.m. EDT.

On the corporate front, shares of Groupon Inc. (GRPN) may be in the spotlight after dropping 9% to a record low on Friday as a restriction on insider selling expired.

U.S. stocks tumbled more than 2% on Friday, leaving the Dow in negative territory for the year and pulling the S&P 500 into correction territory.

The Dow fell 274.88 points Friday to finish at 12,118.57. The S&P 500 dropped 32.29 points to 1,278.04, leaving it 10% off its intraday, 52-week high and 9.9% off its 52-week closing high, which were both set on April 2. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 79.86 points to 2,747.48.

Nymex crude-oil futures fell $1.51 to $81.72 a barrel in electronic trade. Gold futures dropped $2.90 an ounce to $1,619.20.

The ICE dollar index traded at 82.880, little changed from 82.878 in North American trade late Friday.

The euro changed hands at $1.2427, up slightly from $1.2422. The dollar fetched Y78.04, down from Y78.68 on Friday.

-By William L. Watts; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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