Stocks set for another lower start

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Stocks were set to start lower yet again as Wall Street's attempt for a second straight week of gains is challenged. Investors continued to be concerned about the economy, and reports from such companies as Palm and Sony Ericsson didn't help much.

[Update 8:30: Stock futures changed direction and are now indicating stocks could start higher as investors take in the more positive data on the economy and hope the low mortgage rate could help the housing market.]

In focus is still the Federal Reserve's decision to buy $300 billion of longer-term Treasuries among other measures taken that would increase the Fed's balance sheet by $1.15 trillion. This has taken a toll on the dollar, which has traded near a two-month low against the euro, heading for a record weekly drop. Against the yen, the U.S. dollar is on course for a second weekly decline.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve's effort to unfreeze markets for securities backed by loans kicked off with requests for $4.7 billion of financing. Investors could have used the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to finance purchases of as much as $8.3 billion of securities, but asked for less.

Overseas, Asian stock markets were mixed Friday following Wall Street's Thursday's performance, due to worries the Fed's move would cause inflation. European shares traded lower. Oil, which had surged above $51 a barrel the previous day, fell slightly to below $51 a barrel.

Finally, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak at Independent Community Bankers of America convention at 11:00 a.m. ET.
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