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Stock Futures Fall on Cyprus Bailout Plan, Debt Contagion Fears

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were signaling a down day for major U.S. markets Monday as a shocking bailout plan for Cyprus reignited eurozone financial contagion fears and spurred selling around the globe.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were slumping 77 points, or 84.11 points below fair value, to 14,356.

Futures for the S&P 500 were slipping 13.5 points, or 14.2 points below fair value, to 1,540. The index failed to reach a record closing high on Friday as investors retreated from equities on a plunge in consumer confidence.

Futures for the Nasdaq were lower by 21 points, or 22.91 points below fair value, at 2,769.5.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed Saturday on a bailout plan for Cyprus that requires a levy of a 9.9% tax on bank accounts with balances above €100,000 and those with less that amount to be taxed at a 6.75% to raise €5.8 billion for the near-bankrupt nation.

Speculation that Spain and Italy could be next in this unprecedented move to force depositors to contribute to a bailout and take losses was sparking fears of a run on banks across the eurozone.

"Every euro area finance minister should be reminded, daily, that history tells us that monetary unions die as a result of bank runs," Paul Donovan, managing director of global economics at UBS in London, said in a note Monday.

UBS doesn't think that the eurozone will break up. However "the bail out of Cyprus over this weekend has not helped that conviction ... and contagion risks are higher as a result of the terms of the bailout," said Donovan.

Investors piled into gold, Treasuries and the U.S. dollar as eurozone contagion fears spurred safe-haven buying. The euro was plunging 1.02% against the greenback.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield skidded to 2.023% as prices surged by 14/32 and the dollar was rising 0.51%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Gold for April delivery was surging $10.10 to $1,602.70 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

April crude oil futures was falling $1.02 to $92.43 a barrel, hit by the stronger the dollar.

Japan's Nikkei 225 settled behind by 2.71% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed lower by 2%.

The FTSE 100 in London was falling 0.68% and the DAX in Germany was shedding 1.06%.

At 10 a.m. EST, the National Association of Home Builders is forecast by economists, on average, to say that the Housing Market Index rose to 47 in March from 46 in February.

Markets are looking ahead to Wednesday when the Federal Reserve's policy-making wing makes its latest announcement, followed by Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference.

Shares of Constellation Brands (STZ - Get Report) were popping 3.26% to $47.24 in premarket trading. The Victor, N.Y.-based wine company and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) said Friday they and the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge for the postponement until April 9 of the government's antitrust litigation against a $20.1 billion deal to buy Corona maker Grupo Modelo, saying they have made significant progress towards settling the case.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) shares were falling 1.3% to $49.37 in premarket trading Monday after the Federal Reserve, in its release of the annual stress test results of big U.S. banks, told the bank it had to resubmit its capital plan because of the central bank's concerns about "weaknesses" in its plan or planning process.

Meanwhile, two former high-ranking executives at JPMorgan Chase were grilled by senators Friday at a hearing into how the bank lost $6.2 billion on bad derivatives trades.

BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were off 0.8% to $14.87 despite the company receiving a partner order for 1 million of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones earlier last week.

Goldman Sachs cut its view on food producer J.M. Smucker (SJM - Get Report) to "sell" from "neutral" citing a peak in valuation and competitive risks.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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

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