Economic worries hobble stock futures

Mounting concern the U.S. economy may slip back into recession hobbled stock index futures on Friday, a day after the S&P 500 lost 4.5 percent.

U.S. futures followed declines in Asian and European markets that took a gauge of world shares near an 11-month low on fears the global economy is stalling.

The worsening economic outlook and worries about the strength of European banks helped lift spot gold to a record high above $1,850 an ounce as investors reached for safety.

S&P 500 futures fell 21.3 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 185 points and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 40.75 points.

Shares in the energy sector could be among the worst hit as U.S. crude futures dropped more than 3 percent to $79.85 per barrel.

Bank of America is cutting 3,500 jobs this quarter according to an internal memo, as the biggest U.S. bank grapples with its $1 trillion problem-loan portfolio and growing economic concerns. Shares fell 2.3 percent to $6.85 in premarket trading.

Hewlett-Packard Co shares tumbled 11.2 percent to $26.20 before the market's open as the company prepares to spin off the world's largest PC business, part of a series of moves away from the consumer market. They include buying British software company Autonomy Corp for as much as $11.7 billion. Autonomy shares surged 74 percent.

There are no major U.S. economic indicators or corporate earnings on Friday's calendar.

[Source: Reuters, New York, 19Aug11]

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