European jitters to weigh on stocks

@CNNMoneyInvest February 27, 2012: 8:37 AM ET
u.s. stock futures, premarket

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were set to open lower Monday as concerns on Europe's debt crisis returned and gas prices continued to rise.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were about 0.4% lower. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

European leaders have taken "substantial" steps to contain the eurozone debt crisis, but need to build a stronger financial firewall to ensure the safety of the global economy, top finance officials said Sunday.

Euro area officials tentatively approved a second €130 billion bailout for Greece last week, and the European Central Bank is set to offer a second round of low-cost, long-term loans for European banks on Wednesday.

But the Group of 20 leading economic nations delayed a decision on the funding resources of the International Monetary Fund until after euro area leaders agree on the ultimate size of their financial firewall.

G-20 chiefs: Europe needs a bigger financial firewall

Meanwhile, investors are keeping watch on the oil market, where crude futures rose above $109 a barrel Friday amid concerns about increased tensions between Iran and Western powers. The rise in oil prices has translated into higher gas prices; the national average has climbed for the past 20 days, including a 1-cent-per-gallon climb Monday.

In the week ahead, investors will look for more signs of momentum in the U.S. economy, after the S&P closed Friday at its highest levels since June 2008.

World markets: European stocks fell in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) shed 0.9%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany dropped 1.1% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) lost about 1.2%.

World Bank to China: Free up your economy or bust

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) closed up 0.3%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong fell 0.9% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) slipped 0.1%.

Economy: A report on pending home sales in January is due Monday, shortly after the opening bell.

Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com expect pending home sales for the month of January to have ticked up by 1%, after declining by 3.5% in the month prior.

Companies: Lowe's (LOW, Fortune 500) shares popped after the home improvement retailer posted better-than-expected earnings and sales for the fourth quarter, and issued a healthy guidance for 2012.

Transocean (RIG) booked a $6.1 billion loss, mostly on one-time charges including a $1 billion estimated loss on the 2010 spill at its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. But shares of the company rose as revenue climbed 11% during the quarter and topped expectations.

Gas prices climb for 20th day

After the closing bell, Priceline.com (PCLN) is expected to post quarterly results.

Motorola Solutions (MSI, Fortune 500) said that it bought back $1.2 billion in stock from activist investor Carl Icahn and affiliates. As part of the transaction, Vincent J. Intrieri, a director of Icahn Enterprises G.P., agreed to resign from the Motorola Solutions' board of directors.

Over the weekend, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) reported that its book value per share rose 4.6% in 2011 -- hardly a mighty leap but enough for the company's chairman, Warren Buffett, to meet his annual goal of beating the total return of the S&P 500 index, which climbed 2.1%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained strength against the euro and British pound, but fell versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery slipped 97 cents to $108.80 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $5.40 to $1,771 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.94% from 1.98% late Friday.  To top of page

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