November 30, 2004

Stocks Lose Ground Ahead of Economic Data

NEW YORK - U.S. stock futures were losing ground early but the markets will likely take a cue from a trifecta of economic data Tuesday, led off by third-quarter gross domestic product data from the Commerce Department at 8:30 a.m. EST followed by consumer confidence and manufacturing data at 10 a.m. EST.

Dow Jones futures slipped 9 points recently, while Nasdaq futures were down 0.5 point and S&P futures also slipped 0.5 point.

In London, the FTSE 100 declined 0.2 percent to 4740.1 on continued weakness of the dollar and a profit warning from security company Rentokil Initial PLC.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index ended down 0.7 percent at 10899.25 as worries about the prospects for the domestic economy grew following weaker-than-expected Japan October industrial production data.

In U.S. corporate news, Bank of New York Co. is negotiating with U.S. prosecutors to avert a potential criminal indictment on charges it failed to report suspicious activity at one of its branches, The Wall Street Journal reports. The bank is seeking to avert an indictment in a case involving a medical-equipment leasing firm by agreeing to pay a $24 million penalty, cooperating with prosecutors and submitting to independent monitoring of its compliance program.

After the bell Monday, Hot Topic Inc. cut its fourth-quarter guidance and posted an 8 percent drop in November same-store sales, citing sluggish sales in its accessory line. TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. said it will slash 200 jobs and take a $20 million restructuring charge. Ptek Holdings Inc. said it acquired ConferenceCallServices for $14 million and I-Media SA for 14.3 million euros.

The Commerce Department is due to release the preliminary third-quarter GDP report at 8:30 a.m. EST. The Conference Board is due to release its consumer confidence index for November at 10:00 a.m. EST. NAPM-Chicago will release the manufacturing index at 10:00 a.m. EST.

Chico's FAS is expected to report third-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share after the market closes Tuesday. Smithfield Foods is expected to report second-quarter earnings of 52 cents a share before the market opens. OmniVision Tech is expected to report second-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share after the market closes.

Stocks finished mixed in a volatile session where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. proved no bargain while Apple Computer Inc. attracted considerable investor interest. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 46.33 points, or 0.44 percent, to 10475.90, after being down 105 points earlier. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 4.90, or 0.23 percent, to 2106.87, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 4.08, or 0.34 percent, to 1178.57.