(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a flat opening on the Wall Street amid political developments in Italy as focus remained on negotiations in Washington over a deal to avert the the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures inched up 1.00 point to 13,144. The Nasdaq futures shed 4.50 points to 2,631.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures slid 1.20 points to 1,414.80.
In European news, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced plans to resign once the country's budget for next year is approved. The news pushed Italy's borrowing costs sharply higher and also threw Eurozone's political scene into uncertainty.
There are no major domestic economic reports due on Monday. However, investors keenly anticipate the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting starting Tuesday and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's conference on Wednesday for any hints regarding monetary policy.
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On Friday, U.S. stocks ended on a mixed note amid continued uncertainty about the looming "fiscal cliff" and a decline in consumer confidence offset a better-than-expected key jobs data. Investors continue to remain concerned over whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach an agreement to address the cliff. President Barack Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
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In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shed 1.41 percent in premarket. Jefferies lowered its price target on the stock to $800 from $900.
McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) rose 2.23 percent in premarket after the restaurant operator said global comparable sales grew 2.4 percent in the month of November, with all segments reporting a rise in sales.
American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) fell 1.00 percent in premarket after the New York-based insurer agreed to sell a 90 percent interest in aircraft lessor International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC) for roughly US$5.28 billion to a group of Chinese investors.
Intermec Inc. (NYSE: IN) surged 22.93 percent after the voice and data communications company agreed to be acquired by Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) for $10.00 per share in cash. Honeywell, meanwhile, announced its earnings and sales forecast for 2013.
Ingersoll-Rand Plc (NYSE: IR) announced plans to spin off its commercial and residential security businesses as well as a new share repurchase program of up to $2 billion. The Dublin-based maker of industrial and commercial products also raised quarterly dividend by 31 percent
European markets traded lower, with Germany's DAX down 0.23 percent to trade at 7,500.26. France's CAC40 dipped 0.09 percent to trade at 3,602.36. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 0.10 percent to trade at 5,908.36.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index jumping 1.07 percent to finish at 2,083.77. Japan's Nikkei 225 inched up 0.07 percent to finish at 9,533.75. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.39 percent to end at 22,276.72. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,409.69, down 0.07 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.77 percent to $86.70 per barrel. Gold futures gained 0.76 percent to $1,717 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro dropped 0.19 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2936, while the British pound rose 0.30 percent to 1.6091. The dollar fell 0.24 percent against the Japanese yen to 82.2000.