Stock Futures Slide Amid Debt, Economic Worries


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Stock-index futures followed European markets deep into the red on Monday as traders fretted about political developments that threaten to derail progress on fighting Europe's debt crisis and weak economic data.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:18 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 135 points to 12853, S&P 500 futures dipped 14.9 points to 1360 and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 24 points to 2650.

Market participants had a slew of headlines from across the globe to digest to kick off what may be a busy trading week.

Markit's eurozone PMI gauge suggested the 17-member currency bloc's economic output contracted at the swiftest pace in five months in April. The measure came in at 47.4, down from 49.1 in March. Readings above 50 point to expansion, while those below indicate contraction.

Germany, Europe's powerhouse economy, saw activity in its important manufacturing sector contract at a the swiftest pace in 33 months. Meanwhile, France's key service-sector activity slumped to a six-month low.

"Germany’s economy continued to rest on a knife edge of recession in April, with modest service sector growth only just counterbalancing the escalating manufacturing downturn," Tim Moore, a senior economist at Markit said in a note accompanying the data.

Also on the European front, talks aimed at bringing the Netherlands' deficit in-line with a fiscal compact agreed to by all members of the eurozone broke down, threatening to force the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to multiple news reports.

The developments in the Netherlands "not only threatens early elections in the Netherlands, but also poses a significant threat to the effective ratification of the fiscal compact, the central plank in (German) Chancellor Merkel’s strategy for addressing the eurozone crisis," analysts at Nomura wrote in a note to clients.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy came in second to Socialist candidate François Hollande in a preliminary election contest. Sarkozy is a major part of the eurozone's drive to enforce tough austerity measures in its bid to fight the debt crisis. As a result, analysts said a loss by Sarkozy could be destabilizing.

In Asia, another PMI survey by HSBC showed China's manufacturing sector contracted at a slower rate in April from the month prior.

There are also a slew of corporate earnings on tap for this week, with 176 companies set to report.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) reported weaker-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit, knocking sales lower. Kellogg (NYSE:K) also posted a disappointing quarterly profit, and pared back its full-year outlook.

Commodities were to the downside. Crude oil traded in New York sold off by $1.12, or 1.1%, to $102.75 a barrel. Wholesale New York harbor gasoline dipped 0.57% to $3.12 a gallon.

In metals, gold fell $12.70, or 0.8%, to $1,630 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European markets tumbled 2.2%, the English FTSE 100 fell 1.6% to 5680 and the German DAX sold off by 2.7% to 6570.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% to 9542 and the Chinese Hang Seng dropped 0.79% to 20624.

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