NEW YORK – Wall Street was poised to open lower on Friday after China surprised global markets by increasing banks' reserve requirements, raising worries about the impact of eventual monetary tightening on global growth.
The hike in reserve requirements comes on the heels of a similar increase last month and raised worries that the pace of monetary tightening in China could be more swift than had been expected.
The news boosted the U.S. dollar, dampened European shares and pressured commodity prices, which could weigh on resource stocks. Crude oil futures fell about 1.4 percent to $74.15 a barrel, while Chevron Corp (CVX.N) fell 1.4 percent to $70.75 before the opening bell.
"The reason the market is spooked by China is to some extent, as we look here in the United States to cut back on some of the stimulus, we're almost counting on other nations to continue to provide the same level of demand," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
"Seeing China possibly cut back at the same time is raising concerns about whether or not we can come out of this with the same level of demand."
S&P 500 futures firmed modestly after data showed U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in January as strength in sporting goods, general merchandise, electronic and appliance stores offset flat purchases of motor vehicles.
Shares of Ingersoll-Rand Plc (IR.N) slid 7.6 percent to $31.39 after it reported results that missed analysts' expectations as weak nonresidential construction hit demand for heating and cooling systems.
S&P 500 futures fell 6.4 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 lost 65 points and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 12 points.
Overseas developments have been the main focus of U.S. equity markets in recent weeks on growing concerns about the heavy debt loads of some euro zone nations. A pledge by European leaders on Thursday to support debt-laden Greece eased fears of a broader euro zone crisis and helped lift U.S. stocks.
But there were increasing doubts on Friday about Greece's ability to resolve its debt crisis as data showed its economy shrank more than feared last quarter and saw big revisions to shrinkages in past quarters.
Meanwhile, a European Union government source said meetings of the region's finance ministers next week were unlikely to put together an aid package for Greece.
Among U.S. data still on tap, December business inventories are scheduled for 10 a.m. and are expected to rise 0.2 percent. A preliminary reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer survey is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. and is expected to rise to 75.
Shares of diversified manufacturer 3M Co (MMM.N) fell 1.6 percent to $79.00 after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch cut its rating to "underperform" from "neutral."