US STOCKS-Wall St set to open lower as profits, data fail to impress

Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:20am EDT

* U.S. jobless claims rise modestly in latest week

* China stocks fall despite Beijing's economic reforms

* GM profit beats on strong U.S. demand, smaller loss in Europe

* Facebook shares surge in premarket following Wed's results

* Futures down: S&P down 6.1 pts; Dow down 58 pts; Nasdaq up 4 pts

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, July 25 (Reuters) - Wall Street was headed for a lower open on Thursday, setting up the S&P 500 index for a third day of declines, as mixed earnings and concerns about China's economic slowdown weighed on investor sentiment.

Results from General Motors and Dow Chemical were generally positive on Thursday. But no quarterly profits so far, with the possible exception of big U.S. banks, have been so spectacular as to give stocks a major boost.

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc's gloomy outlook on Wednesday weighed on the market.

"We have 50 or so S&P 500 companies reporting today. This is a lot and the results will be mixed," said Sal Arnuk, co-founder of Themis Trading, a brokerage firm that specializes in stocks.

Growing worries about a hard landing for China's economy also had U.S. investors nervous. Chinese stocks suffered their second straight loss on Thursday despite measures from the government to spur the economy, including help for exports and railway investment. Data on Wednesday showed manufacturing in China running at an 11-month low in July.

Investors also booked profits from a recent rally that has taken the S&P 500 up 18 percent for the year. Despite a back-to-back decline in the past two days, the index is still near its all-time high.

In yet another heavy day of earnings, General Motors Co posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit on demand in North America and cost-cutting in its struggling European business. The stock rose 1.6 percent to $37.75 in premarket trade.

Dow Chemical Co's adjusted quarterly profit jumped 16 percent, topping analysts' estimates, driven by robust demand for pesticides. The stock was up 1.1 percent at $34.75 in premarket trade.

Shares of Facebook jumped nearly 25 percent in premarket trade to $33.02, a day after the company announced earnings.

But not-so-stellar results from bellwethers like Caterpillar and AT&T on Wednesday triggered concerns about the profit outlook. Caterpillar shares were down nearly 1.2 percent at $82.41 and AT&T fell 0.3 percent at $35.30 in premarket trade.

S&P 500 futures fell 6.1 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 58 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 4 points.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly last week in a sign the U.S. labor market continues to improve at a moderate pace while new orders for durable goods rose by 4.2 percent in June. Market reaction was muted.

European shares extended losses around midday on Thursday, as mixed earnings and lingering concerns about the pace of growth in China triggered a bout of profit taking following recent sharp gains.

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