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Shares to Open Sharply Lower; Europe Tanks

CNBC.com and Reuters
Monday, 21 Nov 2011 | 9:01 AM ET

US stock index futures pointed to a sharply lower open on Wall Street Monday as investors feared the consequences of a stalled debt reduction supercommittee and as the crisis in Europe escalates.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he doubted the survival of the European single currency, while the Spanish government fell in a weekend election.

At the same time, the Republican and Democratic leaders of a 12-member congressional "super committee" are set to declare defeat in their attempt to find at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over 10 years after three months of talks failed to bridge deep divides over taxes and spending.

Dow futures were likely to open down about 140 points while the Standard & Poor's 500 was likely to test support at the 1200 level.

Markets in the Red
Any given day, the markets are going to go up or down, says Howard Ward, GAMCO Growth Fund portfolio manager, who endorses buying stocks with a sustainable dividend yield . Ward also weighs in on the plan for new governments in Italy, Spain and Greece.

The crisis in the euro zone has exposed the flaws of the 17-member currency union, and its leaders will need to take urgent action if they want the euro to survive, Buffett told CNBC on Monday. Buffett added there was “doubt now” as to whether the euro would survive the current crisis.

In economic news the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago releases its Chicago Fed National Activity Index for October at 8:30 am in New York. The index read -0.22 in the prior month.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release existing home sales for October at 10:00 am. Economists polled by Reuters forecast a 4.8 million annualized unit total in October versus 4.91 million annualized units in September.

In company news, Wal-Mart shares fell despite an upgrade from JPMorgan Chase, which also downgraded Target sending those shares down.

In earnings news, Tyson Foods reported a sharply lower profit from the same period last year. The company earned 26 cents a share, which was about a nickel below expectations.

Hewlett-Packard reports after the closing bell.

European shares hit a six-week low Monday morning as there was still no clear resolution in sight for the euro zone debt crisis.

A warning from Moody’s rating’s agency that France’s triple A credit rating could be under threat from worsening market conditions caused by the euro zone debt crisis also weighed heavily on investor sentiment. Moody’s warned a rise in interest rates on French government debt and weaker growth prospects could be negative for the outlook on France's credit rating.

In Spain the main opposition conservatives swept commandingly into power and into the hot seat Sunday as voters enduring a 21.5 percent jobless rate and stagnant economy dumped the Socialists — the third time in as many weeks Europe's debt crisis has claimed a government — in the country's biggest election victory in 30 years.

In M&A news, U.S. property and casualty insurer Alleghany is nearing a deal to buy Transatlantic Holdings for about $3.4 billion, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters in the latest twist in a drawn-out battle for the reinsurer.

U.S. oil company Chevron will fully clean up a spill off Brazil's coast, the CEO of the local subsidiary, George Buck, said on Sunday, taking responsibility for an accident that has become a major test for one of the world's fastest-growing oil frontiers.

Pfizer has agreed to pay more than $60 million to settle an investigation by U.S. regulators into whether the drugmaker paid bribes to win business abroad, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris launched legal action against Australian laws forcing tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging from late next year and other tobacco companies said they would soon follow suit.

Private equity firm Blackstone Group is set to buy a portfolio of 16 office buildings for about $800 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Australia's government is set to pass laws for its 30 percent mining profits tax later this week after agreeing to lift the starting threshold and promising more scrutiny of coal seam gas projects in a deal to win support from three key independents

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