Monday, 12 December 2011

U.S. stock futures drop amid euro-zone worries

By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch 
Dec. 12, 2011, 7:28 a.m. EST 

LONDON (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock futures dropped on Monday, as investors questioned whether the measures announced by euro-zone leaders last week would be enough to stem the sovereign-debt crisis.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJ2H -0.78%  declined 73 points to 12,070 and those on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index SP2H -1.04%  dropped 9.2 points to 1,243.80.

Nasdaq 100 futures ND2H -0.79%  fell 12.5 points to 2,306.

The blue-chip Dow index DJIA +1.55%  rose 1.6% on Friday after euro-zone leaders agreed to closer fiscal ties at a Brussels summit and U.S. consumer confidence hit a six-month high. 

The initial enthusiasm over Friday’s European deal was starting to give way to concern on Monday. Euro-zone nations committed Friday to an inter-governmental treaty that will make tougher fiscal rules binding and will include automatic sanctions against budget sinners.

While these medium-term measures have been generally welcomed, many analysts note that the measures fail to address the short-term problems of high borrowing costs for heavily indebted euro-zone nations such as Italy.

Moody’s Investors Service said Monday it still intends to revisit the ratings of all European Union countries during the first quarter of 2012, given “the continued absence of decisive policy measures.” The ratings company said the announcement from last week’s summit “offers few new measures and points out that many are similar to previously announced ones.”

A successful Italian bond auction didn’t do much to boost sentiment. Italy’s Treasury sold 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion) of 12-month bills on Monday. It received bids totalling €13.5 billion and the average yield fell to 5.95% from 6.09% at a previous sale.

World markets

European stock markets posted losses, with Germany’s DAX 30 index DX:DAX -2.04%  down 1.5% and Italy’s FTSE MIB index XX:FTSEMIB -2.73%  down 2.2%.

The euro EURUSD -1.07%  dropped 0.8% to $1.3263. The dollar index DXY +0.91% , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, rose 0.7% to 79.149.

Gold futures came under heavy selling pressure, with the February contract GC2G -2.44%  down nearly $31 to $1,686 an ounce in electronic trading on Globex.

January crude-oil futures CL2F -1.39%  dropped $1.19 to $98.22 a barrel.

No major U.S. economic data are scheduled for release Monday.

Looking ahead, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee will hold a monetary-policy meeting on Tuesday.
Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau.