Stocks Head to Lower Open Ahead of Data

NEW YORK - Wall Street headed for a lower open Wednesday as investors' concerns about the health of the economy and financial sector again canceled out the impact of falling commodities prices.

Investors are awaiting a fresh snapshot of the manufacturing sector with the release of a Commerce Department report on factory orders. The report to be released at 10 a.m. EDT is expected to show that orders for manufactured products rose 0.8 percent in July, according to a consensus of Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Financial/IFR.

Also during the session, automakers are expected to report sluggish August sales that were hampered by the overall economic slump and soaring gas prices. Industry experts expect a majority of the major car manufacturers to post declining sales for the month.

Oil prices dipped to just below $108 a barrel as the dollar continued to strengthen and investors' attention shifted to concerns over slowing global demand for crude now that Hurricane Gustav appears to have left oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico largely undamaged. A barrel of light sweet crude fell $1.72 to $107.99 in premarket trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 47, or 0.31 percent, to 11,467. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures shed 4.90, or 0.38 percent, to 1,271.60 and Nasdaq 100 index futures dropped 11.00, or 0.59 percent, to 1,840.75.

On Tuesday, stocks gave up a huge early advance and closed down as investors' enthusiasm about lower oil and other commodities dissipated, giving way to concerns about the economy.

Bond prices were higher Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.70 percent from 3.74 percent from late trading on Tuesday.

In corporate news, Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest beverage company, moved to expand its operations in the fast-growing Chinese market with a $2.5 billion bid for juice maker China Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd.

State-owned Korea Development Bank has made a proposal to acquire 25 percent of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. for as much as $5.3 billion, a newspaper reported Wednesday. The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest mass-circulation daily, reported that KDB said in the proposal that it would buy the stake by forming a consortium with other South Korean banks and is awaiting a response from Lehman.

A spokesman for Lehman Brothers could not immediately be reached for comment. On Tuesday, the company declined to comment after a KDB official said the bank was involved in acquisition talks about Lehman.

Staples Inc. reported second-quarter profit dropped 16 percent, hurt by slow sales in the U.S. at established stores. The Framingham, Mass.-based office supply retailer posted a profit of $150.2 million, or 21 cents per share, which matched Wall Street projections.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock rose 0.64 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 2.11 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.93 percent, and France's CAC-40 shed 1.57 percent.


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