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Stock Futures Mixed as EU Leaders Meet


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were mixed Monday amid a gathering of eurozone finance ministers and as investors watched for progress in Washington over talks to avoid the "sequestration" deadline.

Global stocks had been strengthening earlier Monday before losing some steam.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 10 points, or 6.97 points below fair value, at 13,936. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.50 points, or 1.13 points below fair value, at 1513. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2.25 points, or 1.64 points above fair value, at 2774.

Major U.S. stock averages gained Friday as investors tracked the European markets and got a boost from better-than-expected trade data and earnings reports.

European markets gained ground Friday after European leaders, following intense talks, agreed Friday on the framework of a new long-term budget involving €960 billion of spending on agriculture, aid and scientific research over about a decade.

"These 17 nations came together at the summit and made the hard choices of budget cuts over a 10-year span and taking €900 billion out of their budget, citing the fact that they realize this is a difficult decision -- but yet they did it ... they did it for the better of the union," Kenny Polcari, director of floor operations at O'Neil Securities told TheStreet late Friday. The bullishness stemming from the fact that European leaders have managed to come together, "that sense of goodwill ... is certainly helping our markets" as the U.S. deals with its own budget issues.

Democrats and Republicans on Sunday debated higher taxes as part of a proposal to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, the so-called sequestration, that kicks in on March 1.

Euro-area finance ministers are meeting Monday and Tuesday in Brussels to talk about potential aid for Cyprus, an update on how Greece is faring with its second rescue program, and proposals for direct bank bailouts by the region's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

The U.S. economic calendar is empty Monday.

The DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.12% and the FTSE in London was up 0.25% on Monday.

Most Asian markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Gold for April delivery was down by $4.70 at $1,662.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were down 20 cents at $95.52 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling 6/32, raising the yield to 1.971%. The dollar was up 0.11%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Google's (GOOG) executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, plans to sell more than 40% of his shares in the Internet search giant. Google shares were down 0.69% in premarket trading.

AMR (AAMRQ.PK), the parent of American Airlines, and US Airways (LCC) are in final negotiations on a merger that could be announced this week, according to reports. US Airways shares were spiking by 1.7%.

Southeastern Asset Management has been joined by three of Dell's (DELL) largest shareholders to object to object to the $24.4 billion deal to take the No. 3 PC maker private. Dell shares were down 0.15%.

Novo Nordisk (NVO), the Danish drugmaker, said the Food and Drug Administration rejected its applications for approval of once-per-day insulin drugs to treat diabetes. Novo Nordisk's ADRs were plunging nearly 14%.

At the same time, Sanofi (SNY) ADRs were up more than 3.5% as Novo Nordisk's problem is being viewed as a positive for Sanofi's rival Lantus treatment.

Film studio Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) is expected by Wall Street on Monday after the close to report fiscal third-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share on revenue of $707 million. Shares were popping more than 3%.

Loews (L) posted a fourth-quarter loss of $32 million, or 8 cents a share, on hurricane Sandy-related catastrophe losses and charges related to the declining natural gas and natural gas liquids prices. Shares were slumping by more than 3%.

BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were off more than 4% as AllThingsD said that the company has lost another big enterprise customer. The report said that home-improvement retailer Home Depot (HD) is transitioning some 10,000 employees to Apple's (AAPL) iPhone.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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

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