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U.S. stock futures fell sharply Thursday, dragged lower by a selloff in European stock and bond markets that was triggered by worries about Europe’s economy and debt burden. Futures held their losses even after U.S. data on initial jobless claims came in better than expected.
About an hour ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 142 points, or 0.8%, to 16771. S&P 500 index futures shed 16.6 points, or 0.8%, to 1950.60 and Nasdaq-100 futures declined 34. 5 points, or 0.9%, to 3851. Changes in stock futures don’t always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 in the latest week. Claims were expected to come in at 319,000. U.S. futures declines were in line with losses in European stocks as worries over the health of Portugal’s largest lender spooked financial markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 was recently down 1.2%, while bond yields on peripheral euro-zone countries rose. When bond yields rise, prices fall.
International stocks trading in New York were mixed on Thursday. The Bank of New York index of American depositary receipts fell 0.95% to 155.60. The European index decreased 1.1% to 153.97, the Asian index dropped 0.84% to 149.75, the Latin American index rose 0.6% to 296.56 and the emerging markets index declined 0.13% to 294.31. Among the companies with shares that actively traded were Telefonica SA (TEF, TEF.MC) and Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (PT, PTC.LB).
The European Union’s top court on Thursday upheld a record 152 million euro ($207 million) fine imposed on Spanish telecom giant Telefonica in 2007 for stifling competition in Spain’s broadband Internet market. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said EU regulators had demonstrated that Telefonica’s behavior in Spain had had “potential anticompetitive effects that may have excluded competitors.” Shares fell 2.7% to $16.53.
Espirito Santo Financial Group SA Thursday said it has suspended trading in its own shares and bonds. In a news release, Espirito Santo Financial Group said the suspension was due to “ongoing material difficulties at its largest shareholder Espirito Santo International SA.” Portugal Telecom last week disclosed that it has EUR897 million ($1.22 billion) in commercial paper from a unit of Espirito Santo, which is due on July 15. Portugal Telecom shares fell 6.8% to $2.60.
Vodafone Group PLC (VOD, VODPF, VOD.LN) said Thursday that it will continue international arbitration to resolve its multibillion-dollar tax dispute with India. While unveiling the country’s national budget Thursday, India’s new finance minister, Arun Jaitley, said that while India is trying to create a more predictable taxation system, pending tax disputes will have to be resolved by the courts. Some observers had hoped the budget might contain some resolutions for long-pending tax disputes like the one with Vodafone. Shares fell 0.8% to $32.44.

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