After showing a lack of direction in each of the two previous sessions, stocks may move to the downside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 53 points.
The downward momentum for the markets is partly due to the release of some disappointing Chinese trade data, which has led to renewed concerns about the outlook for the global economy.
A report released by China's General Administration of Customs showed that Chinese exports grew by just 1 percent year-over-year in July, decelerating from the 11.3 percent growth reported for June. Economists had forecast an 8 percent increase.
Chinese imports also rose at a slower rate in July, up 4.7 percent compared to the 6.3 percent increase in June. Economists had expected import growth to pick up to a 7 percent pace.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department recently released a report showing an unexpected decrease in import prices in the month of July.
The report showed that import prices fell by 0.6 percent in July after tumbling by 2.4 percent in June. The continued drop surprised economists, who had expected import prices to increase by 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, export prices rose by 0.5 percent in July following a 1.7 percent decrease in the previous month. Economists had expected export prices to edge down by 0.1 percent.
Among individual stocks, shares of J.C. Penney (JCP: Quote) are likely to be in focus after the department store operator reported a wider than expected second quarter loss and warned that it no longer anticipates achieving its earnings forecast for the full year.
With traders reluctant to make any significant moves, stocks turned in another lackluster performance during trading on Thursday. The major averages remained stuck near the unchanged line throughout the session after ending the previous session nearly flat.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the Dow edging down 10.45 points or 0.1 percent to 13,165.19, while the Nasdaq rose 7.39 points or 0.3 percent to 3,018.64 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.58 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,402.80.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has edged down by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both down by 0.9 percent.
Crude oil futures are sliding $1.53 to $91.83 a barrel after edging up $0.01 to $93.36 a barrel on Thursday. Gold futures are falling $9.50 to $1,610.70 an ounce. In the previous session, the precious metal rose $4.20 to $1,620.20.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is currently trading at 78.26 yen compared to the 78.56 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2268 compared to yesterday's $1.2306.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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