US futures slip on Europe, Japan data

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New York - US stock index futures fell on Thursday, in the wake of weaker-than-expected growth data from Europe and Japan and a disappointing outlook from technology bellwether Cisco Systems.

* The French and German economies shrank more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2012, data showed, and a 0.6 percent contraction in the euro zone was the steepest for the bloc since the first quarter of 2009.

* Japan's GDP shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, crushing expectations of a modest return to growth and adding weight to the new government's push for radical policy steps to revive growth.

* The S&P 500 is up 6.6 percent so far this year and trading has been thin over the past few sessions.

Though weakness in Europe has persisted over recent quarters, the underwhelming GDP data, which could impact global growth and US corporate profits, may trigger a round of profit-taking.

* Shares of Cisco Systems fell 2 percent in premarket trading a day after it reported a 5 percent drop in revenue from Europe and its chief executive said business there remained challenging.

* S&P 500 futures fell 6 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 fell 62 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 11 points.

* American Airlines and US Airways Group said they plan to merge in a deal that will form the world's biggest air carrier, with an equity valuation of about $11 billion.

US Airways shares edged up 0.6 percent in premarket trading.

* Nvidia shares fell 2.6 percent in premarket trading after the chip maker's revenue outlook missed expectations on Wednesday, pointing to a slowing PC industry and slower production of tablets using its chips.

* On the other hand, shares of the world's largest chip gear maker Applied Materials rose Wednesday after the closing bell following a better-than-expected earnings report and outlook.

* Best Buy shares fell 3.5 percent in premarket trading; sources said on Wednesday its founder, Richard Schulze, may scrap a buyout bid and instead, line up investors to take a minority position in the electronics retailer. - Reuters

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