(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a sharply lower opening on the Wall Street, weighed by political developments in Europe and weak economic data from China.
Mini Dow industrial average futures slumped 134.00 points to 12,854.00. The Nasdaq Futures retreated 24.00 points to 2,650.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures lost 14.50 points to 1,360.70.
On the European news front, Netherlands is likely to face an early election after the government failed to agree on budget cuts, prompting worries on the country's support for future euro zone measures. In France, the first round of presidential election saw Socialist leader Francois Hollande winning 28.8 percent of the votes, pushing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy to the second spot.
Meanwhile, Eurozone private sector shrank at a faster-than-expected pace to a 5-month low in April, a report from Markit Economics showed that the composite output index dipped unexpectedly to 47.4 in April from 49.1 in March.
On the Asia news front, China's manufacturing activity contracted for the sixth straight month in April. The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index advanced to 49.1 in April from 48.3 in March. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction.
On Friday, U.S. stocks ended mixed after two days of losses amid some stronger-than-forecast earnings and improvement in German business confidence.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: (WMT, COP, K, RDEA)
In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) retreated 4.5 percent in premarket. The retail giant said it is looking into a media report that some executives bribed officials in Mexico to to build stores across the country in the early 2000s.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) dropped 2.35 percent in premarket trading on Monday after the oil company's quarterly earnings trailed market expectations amid drop in production volumes and refining margins. On an adjusted basis, earnings were $2.02 per share for the first quarter, compared with $1.82 per share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts' expected COP to earn $2.08 a share.
Kellogg Co. (NYSE:K) dropped 5.54 percent in premarket after the ready to eat cereal and convenience food products company slashed its outlook for 2012 on weaker than predicted first quarter results hurt by European business besides some categories in the U.S. The company has cut down its earnings forecast for 2012 to $3.18 - $3.30 a share from $3.48 a share projected earlier.
Ardea Biosciences Inc. (Nasdaq: RDEA) spiked 51.3 percent to $31.54 in premarket after AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) agreed to acquire the company for $1.26 billion, or $32 a share.
The European markets traded sharpy lower, with Germany's DAX losing 2.91 percent to trade at 6,553.89. France's CAC40 declined 2.36 percent to 3,113.48. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 1.82 percent to 5,667.08.
Asian markets closed on a lower note, tracking global cues. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.72 percent to end at $2,389.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.84 percent to close at 20,624.39. Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.20 percent to close at 9,542.17. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,096.68, down 1.60 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil declined 1.09 percent to $102.75 per barrel. Gold fell 0.78 percent to $1,630.0 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dropped 0.73 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3122 and the British pound dipped 0.26 percent against the greenback to 1.6081. The dollar fell 0.50 percent against the Japanese yen to 81.1200.