NEW YORK, March 4 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Monday as worries about the prospects for global economic
growth prompted investors to take a step back from equities that
are within reach of record highs.
China could increase required downpayments and loan rates
for buyers of second homes in cities where prices are rising too
quickly, in the government's latest move to contain housing
The plans, announced by the cabinet late on Friday, were
stricter than expected and prompted worries about slower growth
Separately, data showed growth in China's services sector
expanded at its slowest pace in five months in
Domestically, the $85 billion in across-the-board spending
cuts officially started to go into effect in the United States
over the weekend. Stocks have so far shrugged off concerns about
the so-called sequester, but signs the cuts are starting to take
a toll on the economy could jostle markets.
President Barack Obama raised again the issue of cutting
entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security as a way out
of damaging budget cuts, a White House official said on Sunday.
S&P 500 futures fell 4.7 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 were down
55 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 12.75 points.
Stocks have climbed to multi-year highs in recent months,
putting the S&P 500 and Dow within sight of their previous
record high levels. The indexes are up more than 6 and 7 percent
respectively for the year so far.
The latest flare-up in the euro zone sovereign debt crisis
also weighed on futures as Italy appeared to be inching toward
another round of elections.
Warren Buffett, speaking on CNBC, said stocks are cheaper
than other investments now. On Friday, Buffett warned
shareholders that Berkshire Hathaway may end a long
streak of outperforming the S&P 500 this year, even as he said
he was still hunting for acquisitions.