Stocks quoted in this article:
U.S. stock futures have cratered this morning, as traders react to news of declining housing starts and caution from FedEx Corp. (FDX). Earlier this morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was headed for a loss of about 45 points on the open, but DJIA future are now indicating an opening plunge of about 80 points. The S&P 500 Index (SPX), meanwhile, is headed for a loss of about 9 points on the open. FedEx started the bears' ball rolling after issuing weaker-than-expected current year earnings guidance.
If FedEx provided the spark, the Commerce Department brought the gasoline. The department reported this morning that May housing starts fell 10% to their lowest level since December. What's more, starts of single-family homes plunged 17%, the largest percentage decline since 1991, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 468,000, the lowest in a year. The report was worse than the 7% decline that economists had expected. Adding insult to injury, April's starts were revised lower to a 659,000 rate from 672,000 previously estimated.