* Global markets pummeled by stimulus worries
* Safeway surges, to sell Canadian assets to Empire
* Retail sales data for May due
* Futures down: Dow 83 pts, S&P 4.3 pts, Nasdaq 7.5 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, June 13 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Thursday as investors continued to position themselves for
the eventual winding down of central bank stimulus that has
propelled the equity market rally this year.
The weakness in futures followed a slump in stocks globally.
Investors are trying to gauge when central banks around the
world - and particularly the Federal Reserve - will pull back on
their accommodative monetary policy.
"The easy money helped us on the way up. The concern is
mounting it's going to end," said Andre Bakhos, director of
market analytics at Lek Securities in New York.
Comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last month stoked
worries that the central bank could slow its $85 billion a month
bond purchase program sooner than expected. Investors were
looking to the Fed's policy-setting committee meeting next week
for clarity on how soon the Fed will end its stimulus measures.
Nervousness over the withdrawal of economic support was
exacerbated earlier this week when the Bank of Japan held its
monetary policy steady, and investors have been unwinding some
of the trades built around central bank support. The benchmark
S&P 500 has advanced 13 percent so far this year.
"The action has been choppy and erratic," said Bakhos. "It's
a case of investors looking to limit exposure ahead of next
week's Fed meeting."
Adding to the uncertainty, the World Bank cut its outlook
for global growth amid a deeper-than-expected recession in
Europe and slowdown in some emerging markets. The bank forecast
the world's gross domestic product will grow 2.2 percent this
year, down from its previous forecast of 2.4 percent growth and
slightly below last year's growth of 2.3 percent.
S&P 500 futures fell 4.3 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 slipped 83
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 7.5 points.
Among economic reports due on Thursday are those on retail
sales, import prices, business inventories and weekly jobless
Retail sales will likely garner the most attention, with
investors hoping that consumer resilience remains intact. Sales
are forecast to have risen 0.4 percent in May.
Safeway shares surged more than 25 percent after
Empire said it would buy Safeway's assets in Canada
for $5.7 billion. Safeway was up 25.5 percent at $29.00 in
Clearwire Corp's board urged shareholders to accept
a tender offer from Dish Network Corp over an earlier
deal with majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp to buy out the
minority shareholders of the wireless service provider.
Apple Inc is exploring launching iPhones with
bigger screens, as well as cheaper models in a range of colors,
over the next year, sources said.