Stocks Face Early Pressure

Oil firms after a major snowstorm hits the Northeast.
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Stocks were lower Monday as rough sessions in Asia and bearish news on two high-flying names had buyers reconsidering Friday's late runup.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading 4 points below fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 9-point decline. The 10-year Treasury bond was unchanged in price to yield 4.59% -- 10 basis points below the two-year note -- while the dollar rose against the yen and euro.

Some of the weakness in futures was attributable to a bearish article in

Barron's

about

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

. Critics were quoted in the story saying shares of the search giant could be halved this year due to rising competition with

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

.

Another investor darling,

Genentech

(DNA)

, said overnight that it is suspending recruitment in a study of Avastin in colon cancer after several patients died. The 2,000-person Phase 3 trial has been recruiting patients since December 2004.

Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 recently adding 0.1% to 5771 and Germany's Xetra DAX up 0.2% to 5715. Japan's Nikkei plunged 2.3% overnight to 15,878 as investors fretted about potential policy shifts at the Bank of Japan, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 15,312.

Oil firmed as traders assessed a snowstorm that dumped more than two feet on the Northeast over the weekend. March crude was recently up 12 cents to $61.96 a barrel.

Elsewhere,

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

reportedly is in advanced talks to acquire about 49% of asset-manager

BlackRock

(BLK) - Get Report

. Published reports say Merrill could trade its money-management division for the minority stake in BlackRock, which is currently controlled by

PNC Financial

(PNC) - Get Report

.

To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action, click here

.