Stocks look poised to drop following Alcoa's disappointing earnings

U.S. stocks may be poised to drop for a third day following yesterday's disappointing results from Alcoa Inc. (AA), the first major Dow component to report this earnings season.

According to Bloomberg News, futures on the S&P 500 expiring in June decreased 0.9 percent to 806.60 at 10:50 a.m. in London, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slid 1.0 percent to 7,683 and Nasdaq-100 Index futures fell 0.6 percent to 1,273.75. Markets in Europe and Asia were also down.

Many traders will be focusing on Alcoa's results heading into today's trading session. The aluminum company, which reported its first back-to-back losses in 15 years, is betting that its results will improve as demand rises from China and the Obama economic stimulus. But Bloomberg points out that analysts expect worldwide aluminum consumption to fall 7 percent and sales to drop 15 percent. Merrill Lynch reiterated its "underperform" rating on the stock.

New York University economist Nouriel Roubini, who gained fame for accurately predicting the economic downturn, told reporters in Canada that he is pessimistic that an economic recovery will happen quickly, saying "There will be a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere down the line, later rather than sooner." He continues to expect the U.S. economy to contract.

Stocks of life insurers may rise today after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government was set to offer them a bail out, though details of the plan remain unclear.

Juniper Networks Inc. (JNPR) also may move after the network equipment maker lowered its expense and sales estimates. ConocoPhillips (COP) shares fell in Europe after UBS analysts cut their ratings from "buy" to "neutral," saying that the company will unlikely increase oil and natural gas production over the next five years.

Among the companies reporting today are the world's largest winemaker Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) and discount retailer Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO), which reported a gain in second quarter profit. Minutes of the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve are also due to be released.

For now, pessimism rules the day.

"Profits at S&P 500 companies probably fell 37 percent on average in the first quarter, according to analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg," Bloomberg says. "The stretch of seven straight declines in earnings is the longest since at least the Great Depression, data compiled by S&P and Bloomberg show."


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