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Futures Fall on More Economic Gloom

CNBC.com
Monday, 30 Jun 2008 | 7:53 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street after last week's carnage and with crucial nonfarm payrolls data coming on Thursday, a day early because of the July 4 holiday.

Asian stocks closed mostly lower, with skyrocketing oil prices remaining the key theme, while in Europe shares fell as inflation came at a record high of 4 percent for the euro zone in June, according to initial estimates.

Oil prices climbed again, with London Brent crude hitting a new high, bolstered by a weak U.S. dollar and continuing tensions between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

The current economic downturn is also hitting the wealthy according to a new CNBC/Portfolio.com “Wealth in America” report, spelling more gloom for the consumer sector.

Americans are driving less, entertaining less, vacationing less and spending less on groceries, according to the report conducted for CNBC and Portfolio magazine.

In an otherwise quiet day for earnings reports, H&R Block, the nation's No. 1 tax preparer, said it swung to a quarterly profit from a loss a year earlier as the weak dollar helped the company cash in on exchange rates from its business in Canada. H&R Block posted a profit of $2.11 a share, ahead of analyst estimates of $2.03, and the company's guidance also beat expectations.

Shares were up 5.3 percent in premarket trading to $21.99

In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores said Sunday the company will begin replacing logos on the front of its U.S. stores with a new design beginning this fall.

The revamped logo comes as Wal-Mart continues to tweak its image after facing criticism from union-led groups and local communities across the nation opposed to big-box store developments.

ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal is looking at entering the takeover battle for the Rio Tinto mining group, the Financial Times reported on Monday, quoting people familiar with the situation.

Mittal, main shareholder at ArcelorMittal, was keen to secure larger supplies of iron ore, said the newspaper. There are no major earnings or economic reports scheduled before the bell.

Also, eBay suffered another legal blow as a court in France ordered the online auction service to pay $61 million to luxury goods group LVMH for allowing sales of counterfeit items on the site. Shares were off nearly 1 percent to $27.38 in premarket trading.

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