Stock Futures Fall as Traders Mull Debt Talks, Earnings

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Stock-index futures fell as deadlocked debt negotiations in Greece darkened sentiment on Wall Street and traders parsed through a slew of corporate earnings reports.

Today's Markets

As of 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 56 points to 12594, S&P 500 futures dipped 7.5 points to 1303 and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 8.5 points to 2426.

Talks between private creditors and the Greek government have dragged on in Athens for three weeks. The two groups have agreed on the general measures of the bond exchange, in which some of the country's bonds will be voluntarily traded in for ones with a lower face value. However, the interest rate the new paper pays has been a stumbling point.

The issue is that bondholders are requesting an average rate around 4%, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, to compensate for the risk posed by holding Greek debt. However, Greece and the groups involved in its bailout, namely the European Union and International Monetary Fund, are pushing for lower borrowing costs, which will help Greece keep its overall debt level in check.

The stakes are quite high: if Greece can't strike a deal that involves mutually acceptable private losses, its rescuers have said they won't provide aid the country needs to service its debts. If Greece fails to make its debt payments, it could lead to a potentially chaotic default.

Also on the European front, reports on the eurozone's manufacturing and services sectors topped analysts' expectations.

The euro was down 0.1% to $1.30, while the U.S. dollar rose 0.22% against a basket of six world currencies.

Market participants were also parsing through a slew of corporate earnings reports from blue-chip companies.

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) posted fourth-quarter earnings per diluted share of $1.33, beating analysts's forecasts of $1.30. The fast-food giant's sales came in at $6.82 billion, also topping estimates of $6.81 billion.

Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) fourth-quarter profit of $1.13 per share, excluding items, on sales of $16.3 billion topped analysts' expectations of $1.09 on $16.27 billion. Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) posted adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 52 cents per share on revenue of $28.4 billion. Analysts anticipated the telecommunications company would earn 53 cents on $28.39 billion in sales.

Insurance firm Travelers (NYSE:TRV) unveiled an operating profit of $1.48 a share, missing estimates of $1.53.

Quarterly reports from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) are on deck after the closing bell in New York.

Commodities markets were mixed. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 36 cents, or 0.36%, to $99.23 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline rose 0.15% to $2.782 a gallon.

In metals, gold slipped $12.60, or 0.76%, to $1,666 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets 

European blue chips slid 1.3%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.86% to 5,733 and the German DAX slumped 1.2% to 6,363.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.22% to 8,785.