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US stock-index futures point lower amid budget concerns

Stock-Market-NewsU.S. stock-index futures fell, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will continue its fall after a short raise yesterday, amid concern the budget impasse will hurt economic growth in the world’s largest economy.

S&P 500 futures expiring in December retreated 0.4% to 1,685.1 at 7:06 a.m. in New York. The index has declined 0.7% this week amid concern that Congress will fail to approve a federal budget before Monday’s deadline, leading to a government shutdown. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 52 points, or 0.3%, to 15,209 today.

“People are just headline watching in terms of the debt ceiling,” said for Bloomberg Nick Xanders, an equity strategist at BTIG Ltd. in London. Investors will “have to wait and see what happens with the votes in the next couple days and whether or not the lights go out in a couple of weeks,” he said.

Consumer spending data for the month of August will be released at 8:30 am EDT. The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer sentiment index, meanwhile, is projected to fall to a final September reading of 78 from 82.1 in August, when it’s released at 9:55 a.m. Eastern Time.

In corporate world, Nektar Therapeutics sank 25% to $10.40 in early trading. The company said the painkiller failed to meet the primary endpoint of a Phase 2 study, citing an “unusual lack” of a gain in pain scores for patients taking a placebo.

Arch Coal Inc., a U.S. coal producer, retreated 2.9% to $4.40 in pre-market New York trading as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. downgraded the stock to sell from neutral.

Nike surged 5.2% to $73.97 in early trading. The world’s largest sporting-goods company said net income in the quarter ended Aug. 31 rose 38% to $780 million from $567 million a year earlier. Earnings per share from continuing operations were 86 cents.

Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co. may be in focus. AllThingsD reported Ford CEO Alan Mulally could be one of the lead candidates for the top job at Microsoft, replacing retiring Steve Ballmer.

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