Investing.com - U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Friday, as concerns over ongoing tensions Ukraine continued to weigh on global equity markets, while markets eyed a fresh batch of first-quarter earnings reports ahead.
Ahead of the open, the Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.13% loss, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.15% fall, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.21% decline.
Investors remained cautious after pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine ignored a public call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone a referendum on self-rule. They said they plan to go ahead on Sunday with a vote that some fear could lead to a civil war.
In the U.S., the Department of Labor on Thursday said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending May 3 fell by 26,000 to 319,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 345,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 20,000 to 325,000 last week.
Tech stocks were expected to be in focus, amid reports Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in talks to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion, in what would be the tech giant''s largest acquisition ever. Apple shares were down 0.51% in pre-market trade.
The advertising sector was also slated to be in the spotlight, after Omnicom (NYSE:OMC) and Paris-based Publicis Groupe (PARIS:PUBP) announced that they had abandoned their $35 billion plan to create the world’s largest advertising company.
The two companies said they were not able to overcome obstacles that slowed progress toward the deal’s completion. The news sent Omnicom shares tumbling 2.72% in after-hour trade.
In earnings news, News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) said late Thursday that profit was 11 cents a share in the fiscal third quarter, exceeding the 3 cents average analyst estimate. The company also reported $2.08 billion in revenue for the period ending March 31, above analysts'' projections for $2.06 billion.
The report boosted News Corp shares, which surged 2.05% in early trading.
Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) also posted preliminary first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates after the close on Thursday, sending the retailer''s shares up 4.64% in extended trade.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:LINTA) and Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 shed 0.47%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.56%, Germany''s DAX retreated 0.42%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 slid 0.42%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng added 0.12%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.25%.
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