Stocks Head for Lower Open Following Apple, Amazon Forecasts

NEW YORK - Stocks headed for a lower open Thursday after Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Starbucks Corp. issued lower-than-expected forecasts, stirring concern about the health of the consumer.

The outlooks underscored a worrisome notion that the economy could show a more prolonged slowdown than some had expected.

Investors examining another onslaught of quarterly numbers are also keeping watch for some of the week's most notable economic figures. Among the data, the Commerce Department is expected to report that sales of new homes fell in March and weigh in with findings on sales of durable goods — big-ticket items like refrigerators, cars and computers. A report on jobless claims is also due.

But early Thursday investors appeared to focus on the lackluster outlooks issued by Apple and Amazon and Starbucks. Apple released a third-quarter profit forecast that missed Wall Street's forecast. Amazon predicted lower operating income than investors expected, while Starbucks warned that its second-quarter profit will likely fall short of Wall Street's expectations because of weak consumer spending.

Their forecasts, delivered after the closing bell Wednesday, touched off unease over the prospects for the consumer. With consumer spending accounting for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, a slowdown among retailers could portend further pain on Wall Street.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 59, or 0.46 percent, to 12,689. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 5.70, or 0.41 percent, to 1,372.80, while Nasdaq 100 index futures declined 12.25, or 0.65 percent, to 1,893.25.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.72 percent from 3.74 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar rose against most other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude fell 90 cents to $117.40 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other corporate news, 3M Co. — the maker of Scotch tape and Post-It notes — said it its first-quarter profit fell 28 percent from a year earlier, which benefited from a gain on the sale of the company's branded pharmaceuticals business in Europe.

PepsiCo Inc. said its first-quarter earnings rose 5 percent as improved revenue from its international division helped make up for increased commodity costs.

Motorola Inc. said its first-quarter loss widened as sales in its mobile unit fell 39 percent.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.28 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.89 percent, Germany's DAX index declined 0.83 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.53 percent.


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