U.S. Stock Futures Fall Amid Profit Paring

U.S. stock futures fell, signaling the market may snap a two-day gain, as concern about Europe’s debt crisis and lower-than-estimated earnings forecasts at J.C. Penney Co. and Tesoro Corp. overshadowed improving jobs data.

J.C. Penney tumbled 8.9 percent and Tesoro lost 7.5 percent in pre-market trading.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March slipped 0.3 percent to 1,269.3 at 8:37 a.m. in New York.

Futures pared losses earlier after ADP Employer Services said payrolls increased by 325,000 last month, topping the median economist forecast for growth of 178,000 jobs.

Applications for jobless benefits decreased 15,000 in the week ended Dec. 31 to 372,000, Labor Department figures showed today. The median estimate of 38 economists in a Bloomberg News survey forecast 375,000 claims. The average over the past four weeks declined to the lowest level in more than three years.

The S&P 500 lost 0.04 point to 1,257.6 in 2011, the smallest annual change since 1947. The benchmark gauge for U.S. equities surged 16 percent from last year’s lowest level on Oct. 3 as better-than-estimated economic data fueled optimism the world’s largest economy can withstand Europe’s debt crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to the highest level since July this week amid signs that manufacturing output is increasing from China to Australia and America.

Figures from the Labor Department tomorrow may show the economy generated 150,000 jobs in December after 120,000 the prior month, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent after falling to 8.6 percent a month earlier, according to the forecasts.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael P. Regan at mregan12@bloomberg.net

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