Stocks headed lower at open

@CNNMoneyInvest April 13, 2012: 8:51 AM ET

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were set to open lower Friday after reports on bank earnings and a slowdown in China's growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were down about 0.4%. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), the first of America's mega-banks to post first-quarter results, beat expectations on earnings and revenue. The bank posted earnings of $1.31 a share against analyst estimates of $1.17. Shares were down 0.5% in premarket trading.

Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) also beat expectations, reporting earnings of 75 cents a share on $21.6 billion in revenue. Analysts predicted that the bank would post earnings of 73 cents per share. Shares were down 1.1% ahead of the opening bell.

The Chinese economy grew at an annual pace of 8.1% in the first quarter, the country's National Bureau of Statistics said Friday, marking a deceleration from an 8.9% growth rate in the prior quarter.

Fears are looming among many investors about a slowdown in China following years of breakneck growth and what some believe is an inflating property bubble. Others, however, are more optimistic; the World Bank predicts the Chinese economy will slow to a 8.2% growth rate this year but rebound to 8.6% in 2013.

"We know that the Chinese have been trying to cool down their economy in order to prevent inflation," said Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board. "The question is, how much was the cost of accomplishing this, and will they be able to limit how cool their economy has turned?"

"It would certainly be reassuring for investors and for markets if the Chinese economy continues to run at an 8% or 9% rate of growth," Goldstein added.

The U.S government reported Friday morning that the Consumer Price Index, its key inflation metric, rose 0.3% in March, led by increases in gas prices, with a year-over-year increase of 2.7%. The reading was in line with analyst expectations.

Later in the day, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak about "Reflections on the Crisis and the Policy Response," in New York. Investors will be watching closely for hints about further stimulus from the central bank.

Federal Reserve officials have made about 20 public appearances this week, expressing conflicting views about keeping interest rates low until 2014.

Leading up to Friday's open, U.S. stocks have posted gains for two straight days, including a 1.4% rally for the Dow and S&P 500 on Thursday.

Companies: Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) shares were up by 0.5% in early trading after the online search leader beat earnings expectations, with a profit of $2.9 billion for the first quarter, up 61% from a year earlier. Google's revenue climbed 24% to $10.7 billion. The company also announced an unorthodox stock split.

Coinstar (CSTR) shares were up 13% Friday morning after the company noted "stronger than anticipated consumer demand at Redbox" on Thursday and raised its earnings outlook for the year.

Dow Chemical (DOW, Fortune 500) shares were up 1.5% after the company announced late Thursday that it will raise its second-quarter dividend by 28% to 32 cents per share.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) gained 0.9%, while the DAX (DAX) in Germany fell 1.0% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) slipped 1.3%.

Asian markets ended higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 0.4%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong climbed 1.8% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) rose 1.2%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for May delivery slipped 49 cents to $103.15 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $8.30 to $1,671.20 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 2.01%, from 2.05% late Thursday. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 25,090.48 -84.83 -0.34%
Nasdaq 7,746.38 -14.66 -0.19%
S&P 500 2,779.66 -2.83 -0.10%
Treasuries 2.92 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 12:25am ET
Company Price Change % Change
AT&T Inc 33.15 0.63 1.94%
Bank of America Corp... 29.28 -0.22 -0.75%
General Electric Co 13.30 -0.34 -2.49%
Advanced Micro Devic... 16.34 0.09 0.55%
Microsoft Corp 100.13 -1.29 -1.27%
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