US stocks edge down on China data – Greek uncertainty

<p>Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 20 points in early trade to 18,209.</p>

US stock markets had a slow start this morning (May 18th) after the release of weak data from China, in a context of uncertainty over Greece.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 20 points in early trade to 18,209, while the S&P 500 index edged down four points to 2,114.80 and the Nasdaq lost 15 points to 4,473.75.

China's new home prices extended their downtrend in April, falling in 48 of 70 top cities with average prices dropping for the eighth straight month on a year-over-year basis, according the Wall Street Journal.

Greek deal  "required immediately"

Meanwhile, uncertainty over Greece's future in the eurozone hampered sentiment. "Greece will be front and centre this week as the country looks to secure a deal with its creditors while avoiding harsh austerity. The government reinforced it won't back down on its election promise to end austerity but this is likely to be a lot harder than they are leading on," Stan Shamu, IG's market strategist, wrote in a note seen by CNBC.

Greece has said it wants to reach a loan deal with its international creditors by the end of this month. Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said a deal was "required immediately". The country has to make a payment of €1.5 billion (£1.09 billion) to the International Monetary Fund on June 5th.

Meanwhile, investors weighed in US Federal Reserve Chicago president Charles Evans's statement that the central bank should hold back from raising short-term interest rates this year. "It likely will not be appropriate to begin raising the fed funds rate until sometime in early 2016,” he said.

Oil prices were up today, with the West Texas Intermediate crude rising above $60 a barrel on concerns that supply could be disrupted by the ongoing Iraq and Yemen conflicts.

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