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Stocks poised for a weak start

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Stocks were poised for a slightly weaker start, as investors digested data that showed Japan’s economy slowed sharply last quarter. Traders are also awaiting reports on the housing markets and regional manufacturing.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were lower. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

After slight gains early in the week, stocks closed lower for four straight sessions last week beginning Tuesday after the Federal Reserve gave a bearish outlook and said the economic recovery is weakening. A raft of downbeat economic reports and some tepid earnings results added pressure.

“Investors are still in a bit of a shock from last week’s severe drop,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics. “Japan’s worse-than-expected growth falls into the same pile of disappointing numbers we’ve been getting, and adds to the growing concern and uncertainty over the global economy.”

World markets: While markets in Asia ended mostly higher, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index slipped 0.6% following reports that Japan’s economic growth slowed sharply to 0.4% in the second quarter, showing that China is another step closer to becoming the world’s third-largest economy.

Japan’s gross domestic product totaled $1.29 trillion for the three months ending in June, while China’s official figure for the same period was $1.34 trillion.

To read more, visit: http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/16/markets/premarkets/

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