Futures Head Lower on Jobs Weakness

US stock index futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street after economic news showed steepening pressure in the jobs market.

An ADP report on March job losses registered the highest numbers since the survey began in 2001.

Dow futures nearly doubled their losses for the morning following the ADP numbers.

At the same time, planned layoffs dipped 19.3 percent in Marchto their lowest level since October, though quarterly job losses are at their highest level in seven years, data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed.

Mortgage applications rose 3 percent last week, though the gain was attributed mostly to low rates that spurred another bout of refinancing efforts, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Big banks led the futures lower, with Bank of America slipping 2.6 percent in premarket trading.

Shares of aerospace company Goodrich also fell, dropping 2.4 percent after Wachovia downgraded the firm to "market perform."

Asian stocks ended the day mixed, while European shares were in the red, with economic fears taking the front seat.

"Make no mistake, we are facing the most severe economic recession since World War II," President Barack Obama said in a news conference with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown ahead of the summit.

Obama acknowledged the G20 countries will not agree on every point but he said a structure must be put in place to ensure cooperation.

Signs of discord have long been brewing. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said neither France nor Germany were satisfied with proposals for the summit, and that he will not associate himself with "false compromises" at the summit.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in an interview to be published on Wednesday that a recovery could come in the first two quarters of 2010.

Talk about the future of General Motors has been swirling around the markets, and a senior administration official had to reassure markets that Obama's thinking on the crisis facing General Motors has not changed since Monday.

A Bloomberg report said the president determined that a pre-packaged bankruptcy was the best way for GM to restructure and become competitive.

GM shares, though, gained about 2 percent in premarket trading.

More bad news from the auto sector emerged late on Tuesday, when Honda announced it would cut production in North America by 62,000 vehicles by shutting down factories for 13 days starting in May.

Complaints about regulators not paying enough attention to what happens in the markets and outside continued to appear, with a new Inspector General's report saying the Securities and Exchange Commission is failing to uncover potentially widespread abuses in the sale of unregistered securities — which, among other things, can be used to run pump-and-dump schemes.

In other markets, oil fell $1.30 a barrel and was approaching $48, while the dollar rose and Treasurys prices firmed up after the ADP jobs report.

Construction spending, pending home sales and the ISM manufacturing index are due to be released at 10 am.