US Stocks Head for Moderately Lower Open

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks headed for a moderately lower open Friday a day after a run-up and as investors awaited word on Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.'s race to sell itself.

Lehman shares spiraled lower again Thursday, heaping pressure on top executives at the No. 4 U.S. investment bank to line up a buyer or risk losing more of Wall Street's confidence. Many market observers are doubtful that Lehman will remain independent. Executives have been working for more than a day to find someone willing to buy all or part of the company, bankers and industry executives close to the situation told The Associated Press.

Lehman shares, which fell nearly 42 percent Thursday and are off more than 94 percent for the year, fell 4 percent in premarket electronic trading Friday as investors awaited insights into whether the beleaguered company would find a rescuer. The stock ended Thursday's session at $4.22.

Bank of America Corp., Japan's Nomura Securities, France's BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank AG and Britain's Barclay's PLC have been mentioned this week as potential buyers.

Beyond developments at Lehman, investors will be looking to economic data. Falling energy prices since mid-July are expected to have aided readings on wholesale inflation and retail sales, which are due at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Wall Street expects the Labor Department's measure on inflation at the wholesale level to show a decline for August; it would mark the first decline in the Producer Price Index in eight months.

Investors also expect another government report to reveal an improvement in retail sales after the decline in energy costs left some consumers with more money in their wallets.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 69, or 0.60 percent, to 11,386. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures declined 5.30, or 0.42 percent, to 1,246.70. Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 2.00, or 0.11 percent, to 1,779.75. The major indexes each rose more than 1 percent Thursday so some retracing Friday wouldn't come as a surprise to traders.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.63 percent from 3.64 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude rose 92 cents to $101.79 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Beyond worries about Lehman, investors also will be examining Washington Mutual Inc., which jumped Thursday after falling sharply Wednesday. The nation's largest savings and loan said Thursday it plans to book another multibillion write-off for wrong-way bets on mortgage securities. The company said, however, that it has adequate capital to fund its operations. The stock fell 3.9 percent in premarket trading after finishing Thursday up 22 percent at $2.83.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.93 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.90 percent, Germany's DAX index advanced 0.39 percent, and France's CAC-40 climbed 0.93 percent.


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