US stock futures fall; Apple to pay dividend

US stock futures fall; Apple to pay dividend

Credit: AP

In this March 13, 2012 photo, Gordon Charlop, right, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets were mixed Monday, March 19, 2012 as doubts about Greece's ability to follow through with tough economic reforms required under an international bailout overtook good news about the U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Associated Press

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 8:16 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures headed lower Monday as last week's rally, bolstered by healthy job data, appeared to lose some steam.

Even the Nasdaq futures, which had been trading higher Monday, dipped after Apple Inc. announced a dividend and $10 billion share buyback program.

In premarket trading Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 21 points to 13,142 and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 2.50 points to 1,396. Nasdaq 100 futures fell 2.75 points to 2,706.25.

European markets were lower in midday trading there after Asian markets finished narrowly mixed.

Apple said Monday it would pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share and that its board had authorized a three-year share buyback program that will begin later this year.

Apple is sitting on $97.6 billion in cash and securities. For years, it has resisted calls to reward shareholders with some of that money. Since the death of CEO Steve Jobs, management had signaled that it's been considering options for the money.

Shares broke $600 in early premarket trading, but gave up some ground after the announcement. Shares rose $3.94 to $589.51 30 minutes ahead of the opening.

There is also some macroeconomic data that investors will be watching Monday. The National Association of Home Builders is scheduled to release its March housing market index, which measures homebuilder confidence.

In February, the index rose to 29, the highest level since May 2007. The index has been rising since September as builders are more hopeful about the potential for sales this year. Still, readings below 50 indicate negative sentiment about the new-home market. The index hasn't hit that level since 2006, during the housing boom.

In Europe, the CAC-40 in France fell 0.7 percent to 3,568, while Germany's DAX was down the same rate to 7,109. The FTSE index of leading British shares pulled back 0.4 percent to 5,940.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1 percent to 21,115.29. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia fell.

Other Asian indexes finished slightly up. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 percent higher at 10,141.99.

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