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Stock futures point to lower open on German dataUS-MARKETS-STOCKS:Stock futures point to lower open on German data
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Monday, extending last week's decline as weak European data caused investors to question the prospects for global growth.
German business sentiment dropped for a fifth successive month in September to its lowest level since early 2010, showing the strongest of Europe's economies is succumbing to a downturn despite the European Central Bank's ambitious bond-buying plan. European shares <.FTEU3> lost 0.6 percent.
Equities have advanced sharply in recent months on expectations for central bank stimulus. On September 6 the ECB announced its bond-buying plan and a week later the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing intended to bolster the economy and reduce U.S. unemployment.
With the S&P 500 up more than 7 percent so far this quarter, investors have sought new catalysts to push shares decisively in one direction or the other. Moves have been slight and volume light. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent last week, and the session with the biggest move was a 0.3 percent decline in the index.
"We've had such a strong quarter that it's difficult for us to keep moving up, especially since we're so light on economic news to trade on," said Oliver Pursche, president at Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York. "We're maybe in a sideways market without a lot of action for a while."
S&P 500 futures fell 5.5 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 46 points and Nasdaq 100 futures sank 8.5 points.
The composition of the Dow changes on Monday, with the inclusion of UnitedHealth Group <UNH.N>. The health insurer replaces Kraft Foods, which is splitting into two companies: Kraft Foods Group <KRFTV.O> and Mondelez International <MDLZV.O>.
Homebuilder Lennar Corp <LEN.N> climbed 4.7 percent to $39.26 in premarket trading on Monday after reporting steep rises in its third-quarter earnings and revenue, while orders rose 44 percent. The results follow a similarly strong report from KB Home <KBH.N> and together indicate that the housing market is gaining traction.
Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc <QCOR.O> plummeted 22 percent to $23.45 before the bell after it said it was being investigated by a U.S. government agency over its promotional practices.
Energy stocks will be in focus as crude oil fell 1.3 percent, continuing a drop of more than 6 percent last week as investors question the demand outlook.
"Oil is trending down because of slowing growth, and I wouldn't expect that to change in the short term," Pursche said. "However, I don't think it's so cheap yet that we'll see a real impact on consumer spending."
Investors will also be looking at transportation stocks after two large shipping companies, FedEx Corp. <FDX.N> and Norfolk Southern Corp. <NSC.N>, warned about the impact of the weakening world economy on their results. The transportation sector <.DJT> is viewed as a leading indicator for the market at large.
Apple Inc <AAPL.O> will look to extend a rally that took the most valuable U.S. company to an all-time high share price. The rally came as Apple launched the latest version of its iPhone worldwide, generating blockbuster sales.
U.S. stocks closed flat on Friday.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)
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