Stock index futures fell sharply Thursday, helping to trigger a setback in the stock market, analysts said.
But the volume of trade on both the New York Stock Exchange and in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was only about half what it was during the record selloff on Sept. 11 and 12.
The S&P 500 future for delivery in December was down 4.55 at 231.35.
A tipoff to the slump in stock prices came late Wednesday, when the S&P 500 closed at sharp discount to the cash index, said Gary Dorsch, senior money-market analyst at G. H. Miller & Co. in Chicago. The break in the index futures was in response to lowered expectations about the economy, he said, pointing to disappointing car sales in September and a rise in interest rates as signaled by lower Treasury bond futures.
Bond futures on the Chicago Board of Trade lost as much as 14/32 point after the West German central bank announced it did not intend to cut interest rates, Dorsch said.