Growth prospects out of China are causing the bulls here in the states to take a breather. Dow futures are down 68 points to 13,099. Nasdaq 100 futures are down 12.75 to 2,715. The S&P 500 futures are rounding out the red start, down 8.50 points to 1,395.
The economic data calendar is fairly stacked this morning with February housing starts up first. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to give the first of four lectures at 12:45pm EST. The first will be at the George Washington School of Business.
Housing start data this AM was a mixed bag. While starts fell slightly, permits jumped 5.1%. The sector is still lagging the rest of the recovery and at this point you have the question the robustness of such recovery. Maybe it could stand a permit for a new foundation, because it looks awfully shaky.
Fears of a slowdown in China were exacerbated overnight when Ian Ashby, CEO of BHP’s Iron-Ore Division, told Australian reporters that demand from China is waning in the commodity sector. If that pattern holds it could signal a downturn in China.
More bad news from China came when they decided o raise the price of retail gasoline. This was the second time this year they raised both gasoline and diesel prices. The move is weighing heavily on auto stocks this morning. [Read more...]