Stocks headed for lower open

By staff

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. stocks were poised for a weak start Tuesday, following a slump in global markets, as investors awaited key economic reports on housing prices, consumer confidence and manufacturing.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were lower ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

Stocks dropped more than 1% in thin trading Monday, as investors braced for closely-watched economic reports on tap later in the week -- including the government's monthly jobs report due Friday.

"Investors are taking a knee in light of all the economic data, and aren't anticipating any news that would make them rush back into stocks," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

He added that while investors' focus for the day will be on the manufacturing and consumer sentiment reports, they'll remain highly skeptical and volume will be anemic ahead of Friday's jobs report.

Economy: Investors will take in reports on consumer confidence, home prices and manufacturing Tuesday morning.

The Case-Shiller 20-city home price index comes out before the opening bell and is expected to have risen 3.1% in June, after rising 4.6% in May, according to a consensus estimate from

The Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence index for August after the start of trading. Economists forecast the index to have edged down to 50 in August from 50.4 in July.

The Chicago PMI, a regional reading on manufacturing activity, is expected to have fallen to 57 in August from 62.3 in July.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its most recent policy meeting.

Investors are especially wary ahead of Friday's big jobs report, which is expected to show that the economy lost jobs for a third month in a row in August.

Economists expect employers to have shed 120,000 jobs in August, after cutting payrolls by 131,000 in July. The unemployment rate is forecast to creep up to 9.6% from 9.5%.

Companies: Shares of Saks Inc. (SKS) spiked 24.1% in premarket trading, after a report from the Daily Mail said a group of U.S. and U.K. private equity companies may soon bid $1.7 billion, or $11 per share, for the high-end retailer.

The report said due diligence on the deal is nearly complete, but billionaires Carlos Slim and Diego Della Valle -- who hold significant stakes in the company -- may want more for their shares.

Shares of 3PAR (PAR) slipped almost 2% in premarket trading, as Reuters survey revealed that most analysts and investors expect that Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) will bow out of the bidding war with Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ, Fortune 500) for the data-storage company.

Dell has until Wednesday to match HP's $2 billion bid for 3PAR.

World markets: European shares lost ground in early trading. The CAC 40 in France was 0.9% lower, the DAX in Germany shed 0.7%, and Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1%.

Asian markets ended lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index sank 3.6% to a 16-month closing low. The Shanghai Composite decreased 0.5% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1%.

Meanwhile, India's economy grew by 8.8% during the three months ended June 30. That compares to 8.6% during the previous quarter, and 6% growth during the same quarter a year ago.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar edged lower against the euro and the Japanese yen, but was higher versus the British pound.

Oil futures for October delivery fell $1.09 to $73.61 a barrel. Gold for December delivery slipped $4.50 to $1,234.70 an ounce.

Bonds: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.50% from 2.54% late Monday. To top of page

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