NEW YORK (
) -- Stocks were dropping 2% as political deadlock over reducing the U.S.' $1 trillion deficit overshadowed the morning's merger announcements.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 254.3 points, or 2.1%, at 11,541. The
, which dipped below 1200 for the first time since late October, was losing 25.5 points, or 2.1%, at 1190. Technical analysts are looking for the S&P 500 to hold a the 1180 level after breaking through several key technical levels in the prior week. The
was shedding 56 points, or 2.1%, to 2516.
On top of uncertainty over Europe's debt crisis, debt matters in the U.S. are pressuring stocks this week.
A panel in Washington D.C. tasked with cutting the U.S. deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade is deadlocked over taxes. The U.S. super committee is expected to announce that it failed to reach its budget-saving goal on Monday, ahead of its Nov. 23 deadline for agreeing on a plan, according to
"There was no great news from Europe over the weekend. The fact that the budget committee is throwing in the towel already suggests lawmakers weren't even close," said Uri Landesman, president of New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners. Landesman added that consumer confidence and hope for possible stimulus from the Federal Reserve are some of the "last weapons" for the market.
The super committee's impasse sets a downbeat tone for the shortened Thanksgiving week. However, the news hardly comes as a surprise for many investors who had low expectations for lawmakers to accomplish much. Furthermore, it is unclear what immediate effect the super committee's failure will have on the U.S. heading into the election year.
Investors have continued to seek safety in the greenback with the perception that the U.S. will make good on its debt payments. According to
, foreign banks doubled their dollar deposits at the Federal Reserve so far this year and the greenback has appreciated 7.2% since the U.S. lost its triple A credit rating from Standard & Poor's in early August.
"The key issue for the U.S. public finances is the plunge and subsequent weak recovery in tax revenues," according to Ian Sheperdson, economist with High Frequency Economics. "Stronger growth would change that picture quite quickly regardless of what the Super Committee does or does not do."
European stocks were down sharply. London's FTSE was losing 2.2%, and Germany's DAX was slipping by 2.7%. Overnight, Asian stocks closed down as Japanese exports fell for the first time in three months, and economic growth in Singapore was projected to slow. Japan's Nikkei Average was down 0.3%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.4%.
The threat of unsustainable borrowing costs in Italy, Spain and France put investors on edge about the eurozone last week. Stocks put in their worst week in about two months, with the Dow losing almost 3% and the S&P falling almost 4%. On the bright side, eurozone officials may be considering ways to fund their emergency rescue fund by allowing the European Central Bank to take on an expanded role.
In corporate news,
agreed to buy
in a deal worth $11 billion. The transaction price of $137 a share in cash is an 89% premium to Pharmasset's closing price Friday of $72.67. Pharmasset was jumping 86%.