Stock Futures Drift Lower as Traders Eye Greece

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Ongoing uncertainty over whether Greece will be able to take the measures necessary to appease its rescuers and stave off a potentially chaotic default weighed on stock-index futures on Tuesday.

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Today's Markets

As of 9:13 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 6 points to 12769, S&P 500 futures slipped 2.5 points to 1336 and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 4.5 points to 2521.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is expected to hold talks with the three main political parties in a bid to negotiate a deal for sweeping austerity measures demanded by the country's rescuers in exchange for a roughly $171 billion bailout on Tuesday. The backdrop for the talks, however, is turning increasingly grim.

Government and private-sector workers were striking on the day in protest of plans to shed some 15,000 public jobs and slice down the minimum wage. On top of the protests, the so-called troika, which represents the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank, has been ramping up pressure on Greece to quickly enact measure to cut its debt.

Separately, talks are continuing between Greece and its private creditors on a debt-exchange deal in which bondholders would voluntary trade their bonds for paper with a lower face value. Those talks, too, have dragged on for weeks, missing multiple deadlines along the way.

The stakes for Greece, the eurozone currency bloc and potentially the continent's financial system are high. The country won't be able to make its debt payment in late March without the international support, which would lead to a messy default. Analysts have said such a default could hit European banks that hold Greek debt and destabilize sovereign debt markets of larger, more systemically important, countries like Italy.

The euro jumped by 0.36% to $1.3177, while the U.S. dollar fell 0.25% against a basket of six world currencies tracked by the dollar index.

On the corporate front, Coca-Cola’s (NYSE:KO) adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 79 cents per share beat Wall Street’s estimates by two cents. The beverage company’s sales came in at $11.04 billion, also beating expectations of $10.99 billion.

Commodities trader Glencore unveiled plans to buy its remaining stake in miner Xstrata for $41 billion. The tie-up will create a $90 billion mining behemoth capable of competing on the world stage.

Commodities markets were mixed. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 60 cents, or 0.6%, to $96.32 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline rose 0.02% to $2.94 a gallon.

Gold slipped 30 cents, or 0.02%, to $1724 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.56%, the English FTSE 100 slipped 0.51% to 5,862 and the German DAX dropped 0.91% to 6,703.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 edged lower by 0.13% to 8,918 and the Chinese Hang Seng ticked lower by 0.05% to 20,699.

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