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U.S. Stock Futures Fluctuate Before Fed Meets

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fluctuated as investors sought signs on whether the Federal Reserve will further support the economy. Nasdaq-100 Index futures retreated after Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Steve Jobs resigned.

Apple, which briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp. this month as the world’s most valuable company, slid 2.6 percent in early New York trading after earlier falling as much as 5.1 percent. Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) lost 4 percent in Europe after its sales and profit forecasts missed analysts’ estimates.

S&P 500 futures expiring in September rose 0.1 percent at 7:24 a.m. in New York after earlier falling 0.6 percent, while contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,288. Futures on the Nasdaq-100, which gets 66 percent of its value from computer-related companies, dropped 0.3 percent to 2,132.5.

U.S. stocks rose for a third day yesterday after better- than-forecast durable-goods orders data helped eased concern the economic recovery is at risk. The S&P 500 has still lost 14 percent from this year’s high on April 29 after S&P stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating and Europe’s debt crisis spilled into Italy and France.

U.S. central bankers meet this weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At last year’s event, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke hinted at a second round of asset purchases, known as QE2, spurring a 28 percent jump in the S&P 500 through April.


Apple Declines

Apple, the maker of the iPhone, dropped 2.6 percent to $366.55 after Jobs resigned as chief executive officer.

Jobs, 56, who has battled cancer and had a liver transplant, presided over a 9,020 percent surge in the stock since July 29, 1997, the day before the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news that he would be named interim CEO. Over the same period, the shares grew in value to $348.7 billion from $2.08 billion. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, 50, succeeded Jobs.

Applied Materials lost 4 percent to $10.91 in Germany. The world’s largest producer of chipmaking equipment forecast fourth-quarter sales and profit that missed estimates as weaker demand leads semiconductor makers to cut expansion plans.

Guess? Inc. also fell in Germany after the clothing retailer forecast third-quarter earnings excluding some items of no more than 74 cents a share, missing the average analyst forecast of 84 cents. The stock lost 8.1 percent to $30.61.

Source: Sarah Jones (Bloomberg)