U.S. to Open Lower as Credit Crisis Spreads

Premarket futures were pointing at a lower open of U.S. stocks Monday, as it became apparent that the credit crisis had spread beyond America into Europe and Asia.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 34 points at 1074 and were 30 short of fair value. Nasdaq futures were 46 points lower at 1432 and were 51 below fair value.

In a sign of a global financial crunch, leaders from France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. met Saturday and agreed to coordinate efforts to prevent failures in Europe's financial system.

On Sunday, a scramble ensued to help troubled institutions. Germany rescued lending company Hypo Real Estate, and France's BNP Paribas said it would take over Benelux bank Fortis NV.

Back in the U.S., Wells Fargo ( WFC) said it intended to go ahead with its purchase of Wachovia ( WB). Wells Fargo said an appeals court vacated a ruling that extended an exclusivity agreement between Citigroup ( C) and Wachovia.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal said that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would appoint advisor Neel Kashkari to supervise the $700 billion bailout program for the financial system. Paulson's proposal passed the House of Representatives and was signed by President Bush on Friday.

On Monday, Bank of America ( BAC) announced it would modify about 400,000 mortgages to help borrowers who had taken out loans from Countrywide Financial, which BofA acquired on July 1.

Outside the financials, Reuters reported that ImClone ( IMCL) agreed to a merger with Eli Lilly ( LLY).

In the commodities space, the price of crude oil was down $3.81 to $90.07 a barrel, and gold was climbing $12.40 to $845.60 an ounce.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury securities were climbing in price. The 10-year was up 28/32 to yield 3.5%, and the 30-year was climbing 1-17/32, yielding 4%.

Overseas markets were broadly falling. The FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt were each down more than 5.8%. Asian exchanges, including Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng, closed on the downside.

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