NEW YORK -- Major U.S. stock indexes were set to open about 1 percent lower on Monday after last week's much weaker-than-expected report on March U.S. job creation.
U.S. non-farm payrolls grew by 120,000 last month, far below the forecast gain of 203,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dipped to 8.2 percent, down from 8.3 percent in February.
The report casts doubt over the ability of the United States to help boost the global economy as Europe's debt crisis resurfaces and worries remain whether China's economy will avoid a hard landing.
Surprisingly soft producer prices data in China sparked concerns of waning demand, reinforcing expectations that a cooling economy has eclipsed inflation as the Chinese government's biggest near-term worry.
A lack of major U.S. economic data on Monday will keep investors focused on Friday's payrolls report, which came in on an equity market holiday.
"Markets are responding to the weak jobs report," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
"Certain sectors are most closely tied to economic growth and those are the ones that will more closely feel the pain," he said.
Bank shares could rank among the most badly hit Monday. The Select Sector SPDR Financial ETF fell 1.5 percent in premarket trading, with Bank Of America off 2 percent at $9.05.
S&P 500 futures fell 15 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 105 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 28.75 points.
Cardillo said he doesn't see the expected decline as the beginning of a correction but as a buying opportunity.
The weak payrolls report could renew hopes for more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The central bank last week released minutes from its March meeting that suggested less of an appetite among committee members for more stimulus despite their expressing worries about the sluggish pace of U.S. growth.
U.S. equities have rallied sharply in recent months, gaining nearly 30 percent since early October to push the S&P 500 near four-year highs. The market has stalled in the last few weeks as investors question the swiftness of the gains and whether economic data is strong enough to warrant higher stock prices.
Earnings will come to the fore this week, with bellwethers Google Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co expected to report results. Alcoa will on Tuesday be the first Dow component to report.
AOL shares jumped 33.7 percent to $24.63 in premarket trading after the internet company said it would sell over 800 of its patents and related applications to Microsoft , and grant Microsoft a non-exclusive license to patents it retains for slightly over $1 billion in cash.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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