Stocks set for lower open as economic data pour in

Stocks are set for a lower open Friday after data showed consumer-level inflation was flat last month, as expected.

Stock futures are continuing to trade lower, with investors unsurprised by the Labor Department's unchanged April consumer price index. Excluding declining energy and food prices, core consumer prices had edged up 0.3%, a bit higher than economists predicted.

Investors are still awaiting reports from the Federal Reserve on industrial production and from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment.

Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 38, or 0.5%, at 8,249. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are down 5.40, or 0.6%, at 883.90. Nasdaq 100 index futures are down 10.75, or 0.8%, to 1,343.00.

Wall Street's huge spring rally has recently hit a lull. The government's stress tests of banks are done, earnings reports are winding down and the first wave of April economic data has been released. Investors are growing concerned that perhaps they got too optimistic when they saw signs of the economy bottoming.

Although the market's big indexes are headed toward a loss for the week, the Standard & Poor's 500 is still up 32% since March 9.

Stock futures for financial companies, however, were up after the Treasury Department agreed to extend billions in bailout funds to six major life insurers. Some of the more troubled companies in the insurance industry had long been pushing for government aid in the wake of major investment losses.

The Hartford Financial Services Group said it is eligible for $3.4 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, while Lincoln National said it has been initially approved for a $2.5 billion injection.

Allstate, Ameriprise Financial, Principal Financial Group and Prudential Financial. have also been approved for funds. The capital invested in the six companies will total less than $22 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the situation.

Meanwhile, the ailing auto industry continues to face challenges. General Motors says it will notify 1,100 U.S. dealers on Friday that their franchise agreements will not be renewed. GM said the closures — which come a day after Chrysler cut ties with a quarter of its dealers — must be made as part of its government-ordered restructuring plan.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 3.08% from 3.09% late Thursday.

The dollar rose against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude fell $1.24 to $57.38 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In overseas stock trading, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.9%. In midday trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.5%, Germany's DAX index was down 0.7%, and France's CAC-40 was down 0.2%.

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