U.S. stock-index futures fall on Europe economy, Cyprus concerns

U.S. stock futures fell, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index approached a record high yesterday, as German manufacturing unexpectedly contracted and Cyprus’s president worked on a new plan to obtain a European bailout.

Oracle Corp. plunged 7.6% after reporting sales and profit that missed analysts’ estimates. Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 1% after lifting its quarterly dividend. Guess? Inc. dropped 6% after its revenue forecast trailed projections. Yahoo! Inc. added 1.7% as Oppenheimer & Co. upgraded the shares.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in June fell 0.2% to 1,546 at 9:15 a.m. in New York. The benchmark index is trading within seven points of its record reached in 2007. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 10 points, or 0.1%, to 14,398 today.

The market “is quite entitled to a breather and I think it may be taking a breather right now,” David Kelly, the New York- based chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, said in a phone interview. “The U.S. economic story continues to improve,” he said. “We still have some European concerns because the Europeans have to figure out a solution for Cyprus.”

U.S. stocks rose yesterday, snapping a three-day decline in the S&P 500, as the Federal Reserve indicated it will keep up bond buying to stimulate the economy. The benchmark gauge has rallied 9.3% this year.

European Economy

A purchasing managers’ index for Germany’s manufacturing industry unexpectedly fell this month while a measure of euro- area services and manufacturing output contracted more than forecast, London-based Markit Economics said.

The European Central Bank said it may cut Cypriot banks off from emergency funds after March 25 as the island nation’s president, Nicos Anastasiades, scrambled to forge agreement on a plan to stave off financial collapse.

In the U.S., applications for jobless benefits increased by 2,000 to 336,000 in the week ended March 16, Labor Department figures showed. Sales of previously owned homes probably rose in February to a 5 million annualized rate, the highest level in more than three years, economists said before a report from the National Association of Realtors due at 10 a.m. New York time. Other data may show an index of leading economic indicators advanced for a third straight month in February.

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