Stocks headed lower again

By staff

NEW YORK( -- U.S. stocks were headed for another decline Friday, as investors remain jittery about President Obama's new bank plan and issues involving China.

Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were lower.

Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

Stocks on Wall Street suffered their worst day in months on Thursday after the Obama administration announced a proposal to increase regulation on the nation's biggest financial firms. Lingering worries about China's lending practices and reports showing a rise in jobless claims and a drop in manufacturing added to the pressure, overshadowing strong earnings from Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500).

The blue-chip Dow sank 213 points, or 2%. The broader S&P 500 lost 1.9% and the Nasdaq composite tumbled 1.1%.

"The market is going to try and stabilize after yesterday's decline, but there's a lot of negative talk out there," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners. "The best we can hope for is a mixed session as the market focuses on the future of banks."

Obama's proposed new bank rules and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call on China to investigate allegations of a cyber attack on Google are all feeding into investors' anxiety, said Cardillo.

"There's a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty is the market's biggest enemy," he said.

World markets: Global indexes also took a drubbing. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei shed nearly 3%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled 0.7%.

Major European indexes posted mild losses Friday, although bank stocks extended their slump. Barclays, Deutsche Bank (DB) and UBS (UBS) all tumbled more than 3% in morning trading.

Earnings: General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) reported quarterly profit and sales Friday that fell from year-ago results but still managed to beat Wall Street estimates. The Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate said its fourth-quarter net income fell 19% to $3 billion, or 28 cents per share.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) reported a surge in sales late Thursday. Although the results topped Wall Street's expectations, shares tumbled in after-hours trading.

American Express (AXP, Fortune 500) posted higher earnings after U.S. markets closed Thursday. Shares of the financial services firm gained about 2% in extended trading.

Cash and bonds: The dollar fell against the euro and the yen, but rose against the British pound. The price of the 10-year note rose, pushing the yield down to 3.58%.

Oil and gold: The price of oil fell 23 cents per barrel to $75.85. The price of gold fell $12.20 per ounce to $1,091.

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