Stock futures edge lower before consumer data

Rising gas prices likely shaking consumer confidence; stock futures edge lower

Associated Press
Stocks edge lower after consumer confidence report
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In a Tuesday March 13, 2012 photo Trader Christopher Morie, right, …

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures edged lower Tuesday ahead of a report that economists expect will show just how much Americans are feeling squeezed by rising gasoline prices.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 2 points to 13,198 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 0.4 points to 1,414.70. The Nasdaq composite index futures fell a point to 2,776.

The price for a gallon of gas has risen 17 cents this month alone, well ahead of the traditional start of the driving season. That begins over the Memorial Day weekend.

Prices are also just a dime away from surpassing last year's peak and energy experts believe they will keep going up.

High gasoline prices are taking their toll on consumers, which could threaten the nascent economic recover. Those consumers account for about 70 percent of the nation's economic activity and their habits are watched closely.

On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that the U.S. would continue with an accommodative economic policy with the employment picture still shaky.

That is certainly what many people are feeling right now.

The Conference Board is expected to report Tuesday that its consumer confidence index slipped to 70.0 in March from 70.8 in February, according to a FactSet poll.

The report from the private business group will be released around 10 a.m. Eastern.

Also on Tuesday, Walgreen Co.'s second-quarter earnings fell almost 8 percent due to its decision to leave the Express Scripts pharmacy network, but the performance still topped analyst expectations.

The drugstore's shares rose 2 percent before the market opened.

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