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Stock futures fall as oil weighs, Fed notes global growth fears

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures fell sharply on Thursday, a day after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting highlighted concerns over the state of the global economy and as oil prices hit their lowest since 2009.

* U.S. policymakers continued to express broad concerns about lagging inflation and the weak world economy even as the job market improved further.

* Traders scaled back bets the Fed would raise interest rates in September after the minutes. They now see a 35 percent chance of a rate hike next month, down from 46 percent on Tuesday.

* The dollar index fell after the minutes were released on Wednesday. Wall Street briefly turn positive after the minutes, but closed lower, weighed down by oil prices and a fall in materials and energy stocks.

* The Dow Jones industrial average is poised to stay below its 200-day moving average for the 13th session in a row. The last time this happened was in August-September 2011, when the index stayed below its 200-day average for 59 sessions.

* World bourses were trading lower too. Shares in Asia hit a two-year low, German stocks were on track for their worst month in over three years, and British stocks slumped to their lowest since January.

* Fears of slowing growth in China, which carried the global economy following the 2008 international financial crisis, has also affected commodities.

* U.S. crude oil prices fell to almost $40 a barrel on Thursday. Shares of Dow components Exxon Mobil fell 1.4 percent and Chevron fell 1.1 percent premarket.

* Valeant Pharma  rose 3.6 percent to $253.78 after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is nearing a $1 billion deal for Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which just won approval to sell a “female Viagra” drug.

* Disney fell 1.7 percent to $104.63 after theflyonthewall.com reported Bernstein had cut its rating on the stock to “market perform”.

* Data scheduled to be released on Thursday includes weekly unemployment numbers, which is expected to have fallen by 2,000 to 272,000. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* Separately, the National Association of Realtors

releases existing home sales data for July at 10 a.m. ET. Sales are expected to have slipped to an annual rate of 5.44 million units last month from 5.49 million units in June.

Futures snapshot at 7:07 a.m. ET:

* S&P 500 e-minis were down 14.5 points, or 0.7 percent, with 216,620 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 32 points, or 0.71 percent, on volume of 34,246 contracts.

* Dow e-minis  were down 127 points, or 0.73 percent, with 27,557 contracts changing hands.

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