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Futures Dip After Bernanke Speaks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker open Monday following comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggesting that the weak labor market could necessitate additional bond purchases by the Fed and as concerns about eurozone stability continued to weigh.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 24 points, or 32 points below fair value, at 11,340. Futures for the S&P 500 were 5 points lower, or 5 points below fair value, at 1219, and Nasdaq futures were off by 4 points, or 7 points below fair value.

Stocks finished ahead Friday despite a disappointing November jobs report that saw the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%.

On Monday, the euro lost ground against the dollar falling to $1.3289 from $1.3387 as European Union finance ministers met to discuss continuing efforts to address eurozone weakness. The FTSE in London was up by 0.3% and the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.1%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4% and Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.1%.

Bernanke presented a dour view of the U.S. economy in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" over the weekend, saying that "it could be four, five years before we are back to a more normal unemployment rate, somewhere in the vicinity of say 5% or 6%."

Bernanke also said an expansion of the central bank's $600 billion bond purchase program was a "possibility" that would depend on the plan's efficacy and inflation, which Bernanke said will not rise above 2% because of the Fed's careful monitoring of the situation.

There are no economic reports scheduled for release during Monday's session.

Traders

Hedge fund manager William Ackman is interested in funding Borders (BGP) in a bid to buy rival Barnes & Noble (BKS), according to a filing on Monday. Shares of Barnes & Noble were surging more than 18% in premarket trading Monday.

Shares of MetLife (MET) were up 0.8% to $40.44 ahead of Monday's opening bell as the insurance provider said it expects 2011 operating earnings to jump 38% to between $5.1 billion and $5.5 billion, or $4.75 to $5.15 a share.

Australian miner Riversdale Mining said it has been approached by Rio Tinto (RIO) about a takeover offer of 15 Australian dollars a share ($14.81), or $3.5 billion. Rio's stock was down 0.03% at $70.06 in early trading.

Shares of 3M (MMM) were up by 0.2% to $87.10 in premarket trading following news that it agreed to acquire Switzerland's Winterthur Technologies for 62 Swiss francs a share ($63.56) by way of a public tender offer for a total value of roughly $448 million.

In commodity markets, the January crude oil contract was down by 29 cents to trade at $88.90 a barrel. The most actively traded February gold contract was up by $8.30 to $1,414.50 an ounce.

The dollar traded higher against a basket of currencies with the dollar index up by 0.5%, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 13/32, diluting the yield to 2.959%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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