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Stock Futures Point to Lower Wall Street Open

Stocks in this article: ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC ODP GM GE JPM BAC AAPL


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were signaling a softer Wall Street open Monday, as the sugar rush from the Federal Reserve's QE3 announcement wore off and global uncertainties crept back into the headlines.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 25 points, or 19.37 points below fair value, at 13,493. Futures for the S&P 500 were down close to 3 points, or 2.77 points below fair value, at 1456. Futures for the Nasdaq were falling 1.75 points, or 0.57 points above fair value, at 2849.

A meeting of European Union finance ministers in Cyprus over the weekend resulted in a deadlock over how the region plans on combating the debt crisis, with the leaders unable to work past their differences on a banking union, the role of the European Central Bank and the conditions of bailout requests.

"Headlines over the weekend laid bare political divisions on how to introduce a pan-European regulatory framework," said Gareth Berry, a currency strategist at UBS. "Considering that a single supervisor is a necessary condition before the ESM could start recapitalizing eurozone banks, a continued deadlock could put a stop to the recent euro rally."

Before Monday's opening bell, the New York Federal Reserve said the Empire State manufacturing index dropped to -10.4 in September, compared with the read of -5.9 in August and consensus of -3, showing a quickening of contraction in the state's manufacturing sector.

Also weighing on sentiment Monday was Citigroup joining other banks in slashing its full-year growth forecast for China.

The major U.S. equity averages finished with solid gains Friday, capping a stellar week as the risk-on trade flourished thanks to the bold stimulus plan outlined by the Fed.

The blue-chip index finished the week up 2.15%, booking a gain for the eighth time in the last 10 weeks and sixth time in the last seven session. Year to date, the Dow is now up 11.26%.

Kevin Mahn, CIO and president, Hennion & Walsh, was a taking a balanced outlook towards the Fed's stimulus plans, given the large number of unresolved issues including Europe's.

"While I believe that the most recent Federal Reserve intervention (i.e. QE3) will help to provide some additional legs to the equity bull market rally that has essentially been in place since the market downturn hit bottom in March of 2009, I do also believe that there are certain headwinds and uncertainties confronting the potential for future economic and stock market growth," Mahn said.

"These headwinds and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the European debt crisis, the upcoming U.S. Presidential and Congressional Elections, rising commodity prices and remaining high levels of unemployment."

"A bigger outtake from QE3 for me was the statement that the Fed would like to extend their accommodative credit stance (i.e. record low interest rates) through the middle of 2015, even if there are signs of economic growth," said Mahn. "Such comments would seem to point towards an attraction to equity allocations in growth oriented portfolios and the need to look to stock dividend strategies for additional sources of income over the next few years -- at least."

"On the downside, QE3 might add to inflationary pressures already present within the system. Yet, on the upside, QE3 might also provide further grease to a real estate recovery machine that currently stands as one of the brightest and most hopeful areas within the U.S. economy."

The FTSE in London was down 0.31% and the DAX in Germany was off 0.17%.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng index settled up 0.14%. The Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed for a public holiday.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 2/32, diluting the yield to 1.864%. The greenback was down 0.08%, according to the dollar index.

October crude oil futures were slipping 4 cents to $98.96 a barrel and December gold futures were off 60 cents at $1772.10 an ounce.

In corporate news, activist investment fund Starboard Value LP is expected to disclose Monday it has taken a 13.3% stake in Office Depot (ODP), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The stake would make Starboard the largest shareholder in Office Depot.

General Electric (GE) has hired Morgan Stanley to review its 33% stake in Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya, which could potentially lead to a sale of GE's roughly $2.2 billion holding, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter said.

The Treasury Department is resisting a push by General Motors (GM) to sell the government's entire stake in the automaker, the Journal reported.

Regulators are investigating whether several major U.S. banks failed to monitor transactions properly, allowing criminals to launder money, according to The New York Times.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that oversees the biggest banks, is leading the money-laundering investigation, according to the newspaper. The report said the OCC could soon take action against JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and that it is also investigating Bank of America (BAC).

U.S. Banks Subject of Money-Laundering Probe: Report

Apple (AAPL) said that its iPhone 5 pre-orders topped 2 million in the first 24 hours.




--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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