Stocks set to fall as oil hovers at $100

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    By CNNMoney staffFebruary 24, 2011: 6:32 AM ET

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks were set to fall at the open, as crude oil prices hover at $100 a barrel and investors continue to keep a wary eye on ongoing political tensions in Libya. Economic reports on tap for Thursday include jobless claims, new home sales and corporate earnings from GM and AIG.

    Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were lower ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

    Stocks declined for a second straight session Wednesday, as oil prices surged to briefly cross the $100 per barrel mark amid mounting turmoil in the North African country — the first exporting nation to be affected by the unrest sweeping across the Arab world.

    The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 107 points, or 0.9%, a day after the blue-chip index plunged nearly 180 points. That was the first back-to-back triple-digit drop for the index since June.

    Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, wrote in a research note on Wednesday that the pullback won’t have a broad long-term impact.

    “A near-term decline in equity prices will end up on the order of a pullback or correction, but not a new bear market,” Stovall said.

    Economy: Weekly initial jobless claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, and are expected to be unchanged at 410,000. The number of people continuing to file unemployment claims for a second week or more is expected to dip slightly.

    The Census Department’s report on durable goods orders is due at the same time; orders are forecast to rise 2.7%, up from a revised 2.5% in December.

    The Commerce Department issues its new home sales report at 10 a.m. ET, which will be followed by a report on crude oil inventories.

    Companies: General Motors Co. (GM) will report their quarterly earnings Thursday morning. The auto giant is expected to report its first annual profit since 2004.

    Earnings from Target (TGT, Fortune 500) and department store Kohl’s (KSS, Fortune 500) are also due before the opening bell. Analysts are looking for Target to post a profit of $1.40 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

    American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500) will report after the closing bell, and is expected to post a massive loss.

    World markets: European stocks fell in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC 40 both slipped 0.3%, and the DAX in Germany tumbled 1.1%.

    Asian markets ended the session mixed. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.6%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dipped 1.3% and Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.2%.

    Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and Japanese yen, but gained slightly versus the British pound.

    Oil for April delivery gained $3.00 to $101.10 a barrel.

    Gold futures for April delivery rose $1.80 to $1415.80 an ounce.

    Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 3.43% from 3.45% late Wednesday.  To top of page


    First Published: February 24, 2011: 6:22 AM ET

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    Stocks set to fall as oil hovers at $100