Futures Weaken Further After Data

U.S. stock index futures sank further ahead of the open Wednesday after U.S. import prices rose faster than expected in August and after a gauge of manufacturing in New York State fell sharply.

Futures had been struggling to find direction after enthusiasm in Japan for government intervention to weaken the yen failed to buoy other Asian markets and European indexes were found little momentum either way.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 snapped a four-day winning streak Tuesday with financial and industrial stocks leading the declines. The indexes had been up for eight out of the last nine sessions.

European stocks were slightly lower. Drug makers were down after AstraZeneca announced a three-month delay to a heart treatment. Asian stocks ended mixed, but the Nikkei 225 surged as the yen fell back from its 15-year high.

The recent decisions on banks' capital, taken over the weekend in Basel, are unlikely to affect the stock market any longer, Kenneth Kamen, president of Mercadien Securities, said on CNBC.

"To me, these Basel rules and even some things that came out in FinReg, are so far out in the future… it's like trying to look into a cloudy crystal ball," Kamen said.

On the economic front, import prices rose0.6 percent after rising by a revised 0.1 percent in July, according to the Labor Department. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.3 percent. In the 12 months to August, import prices rose4.1 percent, the smallest advance since November.

And the September Empire State Manufacturing Survey had an unexpected drop to 4.14 in September from 7.10 in August. The consensus forecast was for an index reading of 6.4.

Also, U.S. mortgage applications for both home purchases and refinancing fell 8.9 percent in September, as refinancing slowed for a second week. Also, a survey from real estate Web site Trulia.com showed a rising number of sellers slashing asking prices for a third month.

Industrial production and capacity utilization figures for August are due out at 9:15 a.m.

In the energy sector, weekly inventory data from the International Energy Agency will be released at 10:30 am.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is due to testify at 10:30 a.m. in the second day of hearings by the House Ways and Means Committee on China's currency policies.

On the Calendar:

WEDNESDAY: industrial production, weekly oil inventories
THURSDAY: PPI, current account, jobless claims, Philly Fed survey; before-the-bell earnings from FedEx, after-the-bell earnings from Oracle and Research In Motion
FRIDAY: CPI, consumer sentiment

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