US STOCKS-Wall St to open lower on emerging-market currency drop

Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:11am EST

* Microsoft up in premarket after earnings

* S&P on track for second straight weekly decline

* Futures off: Dow 99 pts, S&P 12 pts, Nasdaq 19.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a lower open on Friday, in the wake of a selloff in emerging market assets, as expectations grew that the Federal Reserve will trim its market-friendly stimulus measures further next week.

With many market participants expecting the Fed to shave its stimulus by another $10 billion a month next week, investors will look to less risky assets such as U.S. bonds, expecting interest rates will begin to rise. The Fed's policymakers will conclude a two-day meeting on Wednesday.

A rout in emerging market assets spread to developed countries in Europe on worries over Fed policy, slowing growth in China and political problems in Turkey, Argentina and Ukraine.

The Turkish lira hit a fresh record low and the South African rand hit a new five-year low against the dollar. U.S.-listed shares of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. fell 3 percent to $12.30 in premarket trading a day after the country's peso currency suffered its steepest daily decline in 12 years.

"If rates start to go higher, money will come back into the bond market because people have guaranteed rates and it will come out of the stock market," said Ken Polcari, Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

"Especially if people think if the Fed pulls out and rates go higher and the economy starts to stumble, stocks are going to get beat, up but they will have some safety in interest rate- sensitive stocks and bonds."

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose above 2.75 percent after earlier falling to a two-month low.

Argentina's government said Friday it would loosen strict foreign exchange controls, after it abandoned its long-standing policy of supporting the peso currency by intervening in the foreign exchange market earlier this week. That resulted in the currency's steepest plunge since the 2002 financial crisis.

The S&P 500 is down 0.6 percent for the week, on pace for back-to-back weekly losses for the first time since September.

Nine companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report earnings on Friday.

Procter & Gamble Co gained 0.5 percent to $78.60 in premarket after the world's largest household products maker, reported lower quarterly profit on Friday but kept its 2014 sales forecast unchanged.

Microsoft Corp gained 3.2 percent to $37.20 before the opening bell after the world's largest software company posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit.

S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 12 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 dropped 99 points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 19.75 points.

Honeywell International Inc reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and revenue on Friday, as sales grew across the diversified manufacturer's major segments. However, its shares slipped 0.2 percent to $89.60 in premarket.

Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning shows earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to grow 7 percent. Of the 102 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported, 63 percent beat expectations, in line with the long-term average.

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