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CNBC's Domm: Today's Agenda in the Markets

Stocks index futures are slumping ahead of the opening as news from the subprime mortgage world continues to flow. February retail sales data and an earnings report from Goldman Sachs GS could influence direction. European markets are weaker and CNBC Europe reports that worries about U.S. subprime lenders are creeping up there. Asian markets were mostly lower, dragged down by a rising yen.

Risk Business

Some new headlines coming from the mortgage mess this morning. New Century, unable to secure financing, now says its lending activities are under preliminary investigation by the SEC and that it has received a grand jury subpoena for certain documents from the state of California. New Century's stock is halted on the NYSE. Meanwhile, Accredited Home Lenders said it is exploring various strategic options, including raising additional capital and cutting costs.

Wall Street Profits

The fallout of the subprime mess on Wall Street has yet to be seen. Goldman Sachs is the first of the big firms reporting earnings this week with its report this morning and investors will be watching closely for any signs of spillover from the subprime mess. Lehman reports tomorrow and Bear Stearns reports Thursday.

Can America Compete

Two all-star panels of business leaders will ponder that topic in Washington this morning. The event, put together by the Treasury Department, will be carried live on CNBC.com and covered all day by CNBC. Among the panelists are former Fed chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett. They will examine the issue of whether America is competitive in the capital markets. Our Liz Claman is there, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson will speak with our Larry Kudlow later today.

Merger News

After being snubbed by Nikko's major shareholders, Citigroup came back swinging in its effort to buy Japan's Nikko Cordial with a new $13.4 billion bid. Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler is meeting with private equity buyers for its Chrysler unit and hopes to update shareholders on the progress at its April 4 shareholder meeting, according to the Wall Street Journal.

At Home in Dubai

As Halliburton opens up shop in Dubai, the Washington Post reports some members of Congress said they suspect it was doing so to avoid a U.S. tax bill. But one wonders if they noticed that while Halliburton sends its CEO overseas, he is likely to see more global investors from India and other parts of the world than fellow Americans. Speaking of competitiveness.

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