(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a lower open on a holiday-shortened trading day for Wall Street amid uncertainty whether an agreement will be reached in Washington to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures dropped 32 points to 13,104. The Nasdaq futures shed 5.50 points to 2,655. Standard and Poor's 500 futures retreated 4.20 points to 1,421.70.
On Friday, U.S. stocks ended sharply lower as a continuing impasse on talks in Washington to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" dented sentiment.
President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to begin in January.
The stock market will close at 1 p.m. EST for the Christmas holiday.
There are no U.S. economic data set for release on Monday.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: YHOO, YUM, RF, AEGR, ALXA
In corporate news, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) may be in focus. Needham raised price target on the stock to $26 from $19.
Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) rose 1.28 percent in premarket. The level of antibiotics used in chicken served in the restaurant operator's KFC restaurants complied with official limits, the Chinese health regulators said.
Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF) shed 1.41 percent in premarket. The bank is the subject of a probe by federal agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AEGR) said the U.S. health regulators have cleared its drug to treat a rare genetic disease that results in extreme elevation of blood cholesterol levels.
Alexza Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXA) tumbled 12.78 percent in premarket. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the company's Adasuve inhalation powder to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX losing 0.47 percent to trade at 7,636.23. France's CAC40 fell 0.24 percent to trade at 3,652.61. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.24 percent to trade at 5,954.18.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 0.27 percent to finish at 2,159.05. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.16 percent to end at 22,541.18. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,255, up 0.07 percent. The Japanese market is shut for a holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures dipped 0.29 percent to $88.42 per barrel. Gold futures inched up 0.02 percent to $1,660.30 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro added 0.24 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3220, while the British pound slid 0.01 percent to 1.6170. The dollar gained 0.30 percent against the Japanese yen to 84.4900.