Stock Futures Fall as Traders Eye Europe

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U.S. stock-index fell mildly Monday, suggesting the Dow may pull back from its highest level since 2007, as traders digested headlines from across the Atlantic.

Today's Markets

As of 9:00 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 31 points to 14043, S&P 500 futures dipped 2.8 points to 1514 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 8 points to 2741.

The Dow closed out last week at its highest level since October 2007 and within just about 0.5% of its record closing high. However, events in Europe Monday were poised to push the blue-chip index away from the mark.

HSBC (NYSE:HBS) posted annual earnings of $20.6 billion for 2012, falling short of the Street's forecast of $22.7 billion. HSBC is Europe's biggest bank, meaning the miss weighed on shares across the continent. The euro also fell 0.21% to $1.2995.

There was also ongoing political instability in the eurozone. Italy was still without a viable government after elections last week ended in a deadlock. Meanwhile, the Eurogroup was set to meet in Brussels to discuss several issues, including a potential bailout of Cyprus, a small, but highly-indebted nation.

The U.S. economic data docket is bare on the day. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen gave a speech in which she defended the central banks highly-aggressive monetary policy. She cited the still fragile labor market and tame inflation expectations as her rationale.

As the week progresses, though, there will be several important economic reports released, focusing on the labor market. The private payroll report from ADP is out on Wednesday, followed by the all-important February jobs report on Friday. Traders will also get the latest trade figures on Thursday, which figure directly into broader economic measures.

In other corporate news, Hess (NYSE:HES) unveiled a $4 billion share buyback authorization and said it will exit its downstream business fully. As part of the move, it will exit the retail business, energy trading and energy marketing.

Oil prices were little changed. The benchmark U.S. oil contract rose 11 cents, or 0.1%, to $90.78 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.02% to $3.128 a gallon. Gold climbed $5.90, or 0.38%, to $1,578 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.29% to 2609, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.56% to 6343 and the German DAX slumped 0.54% to 7665.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 11652 and the Chinese Hang Seng sold off by 1.5% to 22538.