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Stock Futures Pare Losses After Housing Data

By Tomi Kilgore U.S. stock futures pared some losses after data showing housing starts rose more than expected. About 55 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures eased 13 points, or 0.1%, to 16406. Just prior to the release of the data, Dow futures were down 27 points. S&P 500 index futures slipped two points, or 0.1%, to 1865 and Nasdaq 100 futures gave up three points, or 0.1%, to 3560. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell. New residential construction for April climbed 13% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.07 million, well above expectations of 975,000. Building permits grew 8% to an annual rate of 1.08 million, the most since June 2008, and above forecasts of 1.01 million. After the open, the preliminary May reading of the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, due out at 9:55 a.m., is forecast to tick up to 84.3 from April's 82.6. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2.508%, after settling at a near seven-month low of 2.502% late Thursday. The early weakness in stock futures was an extension of sharp losses in the previous session, in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered the biggest one-day point and percentage drop in five weeks. Upbeat corporate news helped alleviate some stress for investors. Abbott Laboratories advanced 1.4% after the drug maker announced an agreement to buy Latin American generics company CFR Pharmaceuticals for $2.9 billion. Dow component Verizon Communications rose 1.7% after billionaire investors Warren Buffett, Daniel Loeb and John Paulson disclosed late Thursday that their firms picked up stakes in the telecommunications giant. J.C. Penney soared 19% after the department store chain reported late Thursday a narrower-than-expected loss and a bigger-than-expected rise in sales during the fiscal first quarter. It also announced a new credit pact that gives it $500 million more in borrowing capacity. At 8:30 a.m. Eastern, new residential construction for April is expected to rise to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 975,000 from 946,000 in March. Building permits are seen increasing to a 1.01 million rate from 990,000. After the open, the preliminary May reading of the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, due at 9:55 a.m., is forecast to tick up to 84.3 from April's 82.6. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2.504%, after settling at nearly a seven-month low of 2.502% late Thursday. Gold futures were little changed at $1,293.60 an ounce, while crude-oil futures gained 0.2% to $101.66 a barrel. The dollar edged higher against the euro, but lost ground against the yen. European markets extended recent declines, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.2% and headed for a third-straight loss, and for the first weekly loss in five weeks. Germany's DAX 30 index declined 0.3%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.1% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 0.2%. Asian markets were mixed. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average shed 1.4%, as a stronger yen weighed on exporter shares, while China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.1% to snap a three-session losing streak. Meanwhile, Indian shares rallied as India's pro-business opposition party looked to be headed for a major victory in national elections. In other corporate news, Nordstrom rallied 11% after the high-end department-store operator exceeded fiscal-first-quarter earnings and revenue forecast and maintained its full-year outlook. World Wrestling Entertainment tumbled 45% after investors expressed disappointment over a long-term TV agreement announced late Thursday with Comcast's NBCUniversal. Write to Tomi Kilgore at

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