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Stock-index futures signaled stocks may recede from multiyear highs when Wall Street opens on Monday as anxiety mounts that Greece won't take the steps needed to avoid a potentially messy default.
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As of 9:00 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 47 points to 12746, S&P 500 futures dipped 5.8 points to 1333 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 10 points to 2513.
A strong reading on the U.S. jobs markets sent the Dow zooming to its highest level since before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the Nasdaq rallying to its best point since 2000 last week. The broad S&P 500, meanwhile, has had its best start to a year since 1987, climbing 6.9% thus far.
With the economic and corporate dockets fairly light on the day, traders are paying close attention to the debt crisis in Europe.
Greece's efforts to avoid a default have dragged on for months, taking numerous twists and turns along the way. The embattled country is presently negotiating with a slew of players on multiple fronts to secure its fate.
Internally, Greece's three main political parties have struggled to agree on austerity measures international lenders have insisted on in exchange for providing billions of euros in rescue funds. The groups have agreed on an additional 1.5% of GDP fiscal cut for 2012, but unpopular wage reductions across the private sector are among other issues that remain points of contention, according to media reports. Indeed, a meeting planned between the groups planned for Monday was delayed a day, according to a report by Reuters, citing the Greek prime minister's office.
The country's next debt payment is slated for late March and it risks defaulting if it can't convince the European Union and International Monetary Fund to provide another tranche of aid. Talks between Greece and its private creditors to secure a debt exchange deal in which bondholders would voluntary take a haircut on Greek debt have also been dragging on for weeks, missing several deadlines along the way.
The drama in Greece "leaves the market with a continued sense that Greece is no closer to a ‘good’ resolution," analysts at Nomura wrote in a note to clients on Monday. Echoing those frustrations, some market participants said the situation there could be a bearish pressure on equities.
Given stocks' strong performance over the past four months "any further heel-dragging from the continent could start to look as good as an excuse as any to take some money off the table and await further developments," David Jones, chief market strategist at London-based IG Index wrote in an e-mail.
The euro slid 0.86% to $1.3044, while the U.S. dollar rose 0.57% against a basket of six world currencies.
In corporate news, Boeing (NYSE:BA) said it plans on repairing an issue affecting part of the fuselage on some of its 787 Dreamliner planes. The Dow component said it will not affect production plans and doesn't pose a short-term safety issue, according to media reports.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) forged a joint venture with Coinstar's (NASDAQ:CSTR) Redbox unit to create a video subscription service that will likely compete head-on with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). The two firms said in release they expect to unveil the service in the second half of 2012.
Many commodities were under pressure from a stronger dollar. Futures that are traded in dollars tend to trade inversely to the greenback since as it rises it makes them relatively more expensive.
The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell $1.01, or 1%, to $96.83 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline dipped 0.37% to $2.904 a gallon.
In metals, gold dropped $20.30, or 1.2%, to $1719 a troy ounce.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped slightly to 1.921%.
European blue chips dipped 0.74%, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.23% to 5,887 and the German DAX slid 0.47% to 6,735.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.1% to 8,929 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.23% to 20,710.