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US Futures Following Asia, Europe Lower; More Conditions For Greece

By Barbara Kollmeyer U.S. stock futures fell Friday, tracking losses in Asia and Europe after more conditions were demanded for Greece to get fresh aid. Consumer-sentiment data and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are in the spotlight for later. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83 points, or 0.7%, to 12759 and those on the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index slipped 11.50 points, or 0.6%, to 1336.75. Nasdaq 100 futures fell 19 points to 2542. A risk-averse mood appeared to be settling in for investors on Friday, with commodities also lower. "It's back to the drawing board with Greece, nonetheless the markets are not over reacting," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "I think the market is headed for a brief period of intra-day pullbacks setting the stage for another bull run," said Cardillo. Most Asian markets closed down and the Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.6% after euro-zone finance ministers meeting late Thursday would not sign off on a second bailout package for Greece until that country's parliament approves austerity measures. Greek officials agreed on a draft agreement late Thursday that will cut Greek debt to 120% of gross domestic product, and include a 22% cut in the private-sector minimum wage. Greece's major unions called a 48-hour nationwide strike on Friday. "It's been like pulling out teeth getting this far and then [the] EU has asked for more," said Simon Smith, chief economist at FxPro in London. "I would not be surprised if over [the] weekend we get a repeat of the referendum debacle seen toward the end of last year, where domestic sentiment turns against the EU. "The issue is that EU leaders are saying that Greece cannot be allowed to default or leave, but without that ultimate threat, they are riding roughshod over the EU, IMF and ECB," Smith said, in e-mailed comments. In the U.S., the Commerce Department will release the December trade deficit data at 8:30 a.m., EST, while the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index for February will be released at 9:55 a.m., EST. At 12:30 a.m., EST, Fed Chairman Bernanke will discuss the state of the U.S. housing market at the National Association of Homebuilders International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla. The earnings calendar is light for Friday. Ahead of the bell, Laboratory Corp. of America (LH), NYSE Euronext (NYX) and PPL Corp. (PPL) are due to release results. Shares of Nuance Communications Inc. (SSFT) fell nearly 12% after the company reported first-quarter profit and revenue that fell short of analysts expectations. Shares of LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD) rose 8% in pre-open trading on Friday. The company reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share late the prior day, against expectations for 7 cents a share. U.S.-listed shares of Barclays PLC (BCS) could be active. The U.K. bank said 2011 net profit fell amid lower investment banking revenue, but it also said it had an "encouraging start" to this year. The bank said it would cut its bonus pool by 26%. Crude-oil futures for March delivery fell $1.59 to $98.28 a barrel as the International Energy Agency lowered its estimate for global oil demand growth in 2012 to 800,000 barrels a day, against a prior forecast of 1.1 million barrels a day. A strengthening dollar was also weighing on crude, with the dollar index, which weighs the dollar against a basket of six major rivals, rising to 78.789 against 78.582 in late North American trading on Thursday. Gold futures for April delivery fell $25.20, or 1.5%, to $1,715.80 an ounce. -Barbara Kollmeyer; 34 91 395 8131;

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