- Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures drop on European worries

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By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures pointed to a third day of losses for Wall Street Tuesday on worries that Portugal or Spain could be in need of financial help, as investors fear the spread of sovereign-debt troubles across Europe.

“If this is the reward for bailing out entire countries, why bother?” asked Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co., in emailed commentary.

“It should be the question that is asked by the [European Union] and [International Monetary Fund] as bond yields continue to move higher most disconcertingly now in Spain and Italy,” Boockvar added.

After a two-session string of losses, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\z10 (DJZ10 10,999, -40.00, -0.36%)  were off 88 points to 10,951, while those for the S&P 500 /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\z10 (SPZ10 1,180, -6.50, -0.55%)  dropped 10.6 points to 1,175.9.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\z10 (NDZ10 2,119, -26.50, -1.24%)  slipped 22.25 points to 2,123.25.

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“What’s running in the market is a fear of a total meltdown within the euro-zone countries, and that also includes Italy now,” said Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg, chief equity strategist at Saxo Bank.

The premium demanded by investors to hold 10-year Spanish bonds over German bunds hit more than 3 full percentage points Tuesday â€" the largest since the launch of the euro â€" as peripheral bond yields soared. Read more about Spanish bond yields.

“Liquidity has dried up. It’s very, very scary,” said Blaabjerg. “What scares me also is the massive drop in the euro/dollar. It’s dropping one big figure a day. If it goes below $1.30, we’re going to visit $1.25 very soon.”

The euro dipped below $1.30 and was recently at $1.2993.

U.S. stocks closed moderately lower Monday, with Black Friday weekend sales failing to inspire overall markets, though Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!amzn/quotes/nls/amzn (AMZN 175.81, -3.68, -2.05%)  shares set a new high.

Blaabjerg said that the inability of U.S. markets to manage a positive close Monday bears testament to the weight of Europe’s woes.

“The nervousness on markets is so strong that it tears apart everything else in terms of good news,” he said.

“We’re going to see a strong U.S. jobs report on Friday, but I’m also pretty convinced that as long as this goes on in Europe, that’s not going to affect markets much,” he said, adding that he’d “go long the S&P 500 and go short on the German DAX 30 index” right now.

Economic data on Tuesday’s calendar include the Chicago PMI index on November business activity at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the Conference Board will release November consumer-confidence data.

Shares of Merck & Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!mrk/quotes/nls/mrk (MRK 34.49, -0.21, -0.59%)  edged lower in premarket trade after the drug maker said it appointed Kenneth Frazier to the post of chief executive officer, succeeding Richard Clark. Frazier will also serve as a member of the board.

Shares of Lowe’s Companies Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!low/quotes/nls/low (LOW 22.60, +0.24, +1.07%)  could be in focus after the retailer affirmed its 2010 forecast for earnings of $1.37 to $1.40 a share, same-store-sales growth of 1% to 2% and total sales growth of 3% to 4%.

On the deal front, Swiss power and automation group ABB Ltd. /quotes/comstock/13*!abb/quotes/nls/abb (ABB 19.51, -0.06, -0.31%)  said it will pay $63.50 a share for electric-motor manufacturer Baldor Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!bez/quotes/nls/bez (BEZ 63.25, +18.14, +40.21%) . Shares of Baldor surged nearly 40% in premarket trading. Read about the ABB deal for Baldor.

Shares of Google Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 563.37, -18.74, -3.22%)  could be active after a report that the search giant is near a deal to buy closely held online discounter Groupon Inc. for about $6 billion. Citing people close to the situation, the New York Times said the deal could be hammered out as soon as this week, though unidentified people said talks were still at an early stage.

European stock markets traded mostly lower on debt worries, while fears of further monetary-policy tightening in China pushed the Shanghai Composite index to its lowest close in seven weeks.

December gold futures rose $17.30 to $1,383.8 an ounce.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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