U.S. Stock-Index Futures Decline Before Housing Report

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U.S. stock-index futures declined, with equities heading for their first back-to-back weekly losses since January, as investors awaited data that may show American house building and consumer confidence increased.

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. slumped 23 percent after saying its new online TV network won’t make up for lost business until 2015. Nordstrom Inc. jumped 11 percent in German trading as the luxury department-store chain reported quarterly results that exceeded estimates. J.C. Penney Co. rallied 18 percent in early New York trading after posting a narrower-than-forecast first-quarter loss and higher-than-expected sales. Verizon Communications Inc. added 1.8 percent in pre-market trading as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. disclosed a stake.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) expiring next month slipped 0.3 percent to 1,862.7 at 6:24 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts lost 36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,385. The S&P 500 has dropped 0.4 percent this week, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-cap stocks has lost 1 percent. The S&P 500 is still 3 percent up from a low on April 11, climbing this week to a record 1,897.45.

“Today’s focus is on the U.S. housing market,” said Karsten Junius, chief economist at Bank J. Safra Sarasin Ltd., a Swiss private bank. “After a long period of adverse weather conditions anything else but an increase would severely disappoint markets and add to the concerns that the recovery in the housing sector is past its peak.”

U.S. Data

The pace of U.S. home construction probably increased for a third straight month in April, economists projected before a Commerce Department report at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Housing starts rose 3.6 percent last month to a 980,000 annualized rate, following a 946,000 pace in March, according to the median of 79 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Permits for future projects also probably increased.

Separate data at 9:55 a.m. New York time may show American consumer confidence rose in May to a 10-month high. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of sentiment advanced to 84.5 from 84.1 in April, according to the median economist projection.

WWE slumped 23 percent to $15.25 in early New York trading. The company’s online TV network that began operating on Feb. 24 needs 1.3 million to 1.4 million subscribers to generate enough income to make up for lost earnings at its pay-per-view and video-on-demand businesses. WWE predicted it will reach 1 million subscribers this year.

Nordstrom jumped 11 percent to $67.98. Net income reached $140 million, or 72 cents a share, in the quarter ended May 3, down from $145 million a year earlier, the Seattle-based company said in a statement late yesterday. That beat the average analyst projection of 68 cents a share, and the company’s own forecast of 60 cents to 70 cents a share.

J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney (JCP) rallied 18 percent to $9.85. The company reported a net loss, excluding some items, for the three months through May 3 of $1.16 a share, narrower than the $1.22 projected by analysts. Sales rose 6.2 percent in the period to $2.8 billion, also topping the $2.71 billion average estimate.

Verizon advanced 1.8 percent to $48.80 in early New York trading. Berkshire held 11 million Verizon shares as of March 31, Buffett’s company said yesterday in a regulatory filing.

Autodesk Inc. added 5.1 percent to $50.24 in German trading. The maker of architectural and engineering software predicted annual sales will climb as much as 6 percent this year, up from an earlier forecast for as much as 5 percent. First-quarter revenue of $593 million beat the $568 million average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

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