US stock futures plunge as Fed prepares for slump

By FRANCESCA LEVY | September 22, 2011 | 8:05 AM EDT

In this Aug. 26, 2011 photo, a trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. Federal Reserve's tacit acknowledgment that America's economic slowdown is likely to persist for quite a while sent global stock markets skidding Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, as investors brushed off the central bank's efforts to spur growth and focused instead on its gloomy assessment. (AP Photo/Jin Lee)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures are plummeting after the Federal Reserve indicated the U.S. economic slump could last for years.

The Fed took steps to stimulate the economy Wednesday that had largely been expected. But investors were troubled because the central bank's statement showed it expected a deep and persistent downturn.

A government report Thursday morning on new claims for unemployment benefits will give traders news on the country's jobs crisis — one of the major economic challenges cited by the Fed.

Ninety minutes before the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 211 points, or 1.9 percent, at 10,796. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are down 24, or 2.1 percent, at 1,131. Nasdaq 100 futures are down 43, or 1.9 percent, at 2,202.