Wall Street looked set to open lower on Thursday after a number of retailers, including No. 1 Wal-Mart Stores Inc., reported weaker-than-expected April sales, raising worry about slower consumer spending.
Retail stocks have been the laggards as the rest of the stock market has rallied for most of April and May. April sales forecasts for retailers were set low because Easter came early and the weather was unfavorable in April, but many companies still disappointed analysts' expectations.
"I don't think people should be ignoring this weakness, There's something more a foot than weather and Easter," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. "If we see in May and June that the trend continues, that means the U.S. economy is further at risk."
Editors Choice: Best picturesfrom the last 24 hours.Among stores whose sales fell short of forecasts were women's apparel chains Limited Brands Inc. and AnnTaylor Stores Corp..
Several retailers including Children's Place, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and New York & Co. Inc. cut their first-quarter earnings forecast after reporting April sales.
Wal-Mart shares, a component of the Dow, were down 1.1 percent in electronic composite trading.
S&P 500 futures were down 4.3 points, below fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.
Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 37 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 6.5 points
By Jennifer Coogan