- Pre-Market Indications

Monday, November 29, 2010

Indications: Futures flat with focus on Ireland, retail sales

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By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

MADRID (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures traded little changed on Monday, as most European markets sunk into the red after a $113 billion aid package for Ireland failed to convince investors that the euro-zone debt crisis will be contained.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 11,031, +1.00, +0.01%)  were unchanged at 11,030 and those for the S&P 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,182, -1.00, -0.08%)  rose 1.8 points, or 0.2%, to 1,185.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,144, -2.25, -0.10%)  fell 5 points at 2,141.

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European financial leaders on Sunday approved the bailout deal for Ireland, but speculation persisted that debt issues are still at risk of spreading.

Banks, which led the early gains, fell, though Bank of Ireland /quotes/comstock/13*!ire/quotes/nls/ire (IRE 1.44, -0.14, -8.86%)  shares were up nearly 19% in Dublin.

European finance ministers agreed to water down a German-backed proposal to force private bond holders to take writedowns in the event of future bailouts. The plan, which will create a new fund to replace in 2013 the 440-billion euro bailout fund put in place in May, would still require countries found to be insolvent to negotiate a restructuring with private-sector creditors.

“The Irish thing is so important and I think that they may have put more uncertainty into the markets than they would like to by, on the same day they announced a deal, announcing a restructuring policy that begins in 2013,” said Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland.

“What do you do if a sovereign can’t refinance? It raises a lot of questions,” he said. He added that U.S. stocks are just not going to view this positively, hence he sees losses for Monday.

The kickoff of holiday shopping over the Black Friday weekend is also expected to be a focus for U.S. investors, returning from last week’s Thanksgiving-shortened trading schedule.

Shares of retailers such as Target Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!tgt/quotes/nls/tgt (TGT 56.85, -0.40, -0.70%)  and Macy’s Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!m/quotes/nls/m (M 26.00, +0.11, +0.42%)  could see early action. Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 177.20, -0.05, -0.03%)  shares may also be active Monday, which is known as Cyber Monday because many consumers shop online when they return to the office after the holiday.

Citing results of a survey conducted by BIGresearch, the National Retail Federation said 212 million shoppers visited stores and web sites over the weekend, up from 195 million last year, with the average shopper spending 6.4% more than a year ago.

Still, some observers said the sale figures do not look so positive. “Sales for the ‘Black Friday’ retail extravaganza were higher than last year but only by 0.3% â€" with little reason to inspire much volatility today, we could be in for something of a sideways week ahead of Friday’s latest U.S. unemployment numbers,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index, in emailed comments.

Analysts said ISCS Chain Store Sale data for November will give a more accurate picture when it is released on Thursday. There are no data on the calendar for Monday, though the week is full of data, ending with the key November nonfarm payroll report on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,092, -95.28, -0.85%)  fell 1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index /quotes/comstock/10y!i:comp (COMP 2,535, -8.56, -0.34%)  rose less than that last week.

In Europe, stocks traded mostly lower. Most major European banks were in the red as investors fretted that Ireland is not the end of the sovereign-debt crisis.

In Asia, the Nikkei index reached a five-month closing high on an upbeat outlook for exporters, while South Korean stocks were under pressure as concerns over South Korea and North Korean tensions continued.

December gold futures were trading down $1.50 to $1,360.90 an ounce.

In the currency markets, the euro was once again under selling pressure. It fell 0.7% to $1.3142.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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