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Homeus marketsInvestors look to auto sales as Chrysler reports; Bernanke ahead

Investors look to auto sales as Chrysler reports; Bernanke ahead

U.S. stock-index futures indicated a flat open on Friday, as global markets reacted to weaker Chinese manufacturing data and a negative first day of trading on Wall Street yesterday.

Chrysler Group last month in U.S. auto sales, its best December since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst expectations. Chrysler is among the major U.S. automakers reporting Friday.

Wall Street recorded its first negative start to a year since 2008 on Thursday, as a downgrade of Apple hit technology shares and another set of better-than-expected economic reports failed to move investors.

The Dow posted its worst day in two months, with better-than-expected manufacturing reports in the U.S. and Europe failing to offer much comfort.

Asian shares were lower on Friday as profit-taking set in amid low trading volumes. Japanese markets remain closed and will resume trade on January 6. On Thursday, a final report from HSBC showed Chinese factory activity hit a three-month low in December.

However, in Europe, equities were higher on Friday, with retail stocks performing well and with Next posting a rise of 8 percent.

Attention turn today to outgoing U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will address the American Economic Association annual meeting in Philadelphia at 14:30 local time, just four weeks before the end of his eight-year reign at the Fed. Markets will be looking for hints of further reductions in monthly bond purchases.

Boeing's machinists will vote on a contract that would see benefit cuts in exchange for building the 777X aircraft in the Seattle area. Leaders from the union rejected an initial contract back in November.


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