Stock futures lower on sagging investor confidence

 @ibtimes
on May 21 2010 8:16 AM

Stock index futures fell on Friday as the recent sell-off stemming from the euro-zone debt crisis and U.S. financial regulation has ruptured investor confidence, causing a flight from risky assets.

S&P futures briefly fell below 1,060, the level hit at the bottom of the still-unexplained market flash crash on May 6.

The Senate approved a sweeping Wall Street reform bill Thursday night, capping months of wrangling over the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s.

Germany's lower house approved a law allowing the government to contribute to the 750 billion euro bailout package to shield the euro.

Nothing that has been positive that has come out in the last week has made any difference, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

It doesn't make any difference what Germany does. It doesn't make any difference what the financial reform is. Traders and investors are frightened here, and they just want out.

On Thursday, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility index <.VIX>, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, closed at its highest since March 2009, up 29.6 percent at 45.79.

S&P 500 futures fell 6.8 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures dropped 71 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 11.25 points.

May equity options and some options on stock indexes will stop trading at Friday's close and expire on Saturday, which may increase volatility.

The sweeping Wall Street reform measure will keep financial shares in view. In premarket trade, Bank of America Corp fell 1.1 percent to $15.15, and JP Morgan Chase & Co Inc slipped 0.8 percent to $37.53.

Dell Inc shed 3.4 percent to $13.83 premarket after the computer maker said late Thursday that its gross margin fell short of estimates and warned that component supplies will remain tight.

European shares <.FTEU3> fell 2.2 percent and hit their lowest in over eight months on Friday on lingering worries about the euro zone sovereign debt crisis and the impact of austerity measures on growth. Asian stock markets slid on worries about the euro zone.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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