U.S. stock futures fell sharply Friday in some of the heaviest trading this week before President Barack Obama speaks about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff, an issue that has driven markets lower since his re-election three days ago.
Dow Jones industrial futures slid 102 points to 12,673. The broader S&P futures gave up 11.2 points to 1,364.10. Nasdaq futures fell 14.75 points to 2,575.
What Obama says Friday from the White House will likely give markets a better idea of the path ahead in a showdown with Republicans, and the odds of avoiding the one-two punch of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that come due in January.
On the corporate front, J.C. Penney shocked investors again with a loss of $123 million for the quarter. Like the previous quarter, it is much worse than was expected.
Much of the turnaround push at J.C. Penney has been focused on modernizing tired and deteriorating stores. However, even online sales were terrible.
At a time when some retailers are seeing online sales double, sales through jcp.com plunged 37.3 percent from the same period last year.
It marked the third consecutive quarter of overall losses and plunging sales as well.
J.C. Penney shares fell 6 percent before the market opened.