After moving notably higher over the course of the previous week, stocks are likely to give back some ground in early trading on Monday. The major index futures are currently indicating a sharply lower open for the markets, with the Dow futures down 86 points.
The downward momentum for the markets comes as traders are likely to do some profit taking following the recent strength in the markets. Concerns that the markets have come too far too fast are likely to inspire some traders to cash in on the recent gains.
Some negative sentiment has been generated by news that billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) reported a first quarter net loss of $1.53 billion compared to a year-ago profit of $940 million.
Berkshire Hathaway's results were hurt by a drop in revenues as well as huge investment and derivative losses primarily on write-downs on investments in ConocoPhillips (COP) shares.
Banking stocks are likely to be in focus after U.S. Bancorp (USB), BB&T (BBT), and Capital One (COF) all revealed plans to sell common stock in order to raise proceeds to repay funds received under the government's financial bailout program.
U.S. Bancorp said it plans to offer $2.5 billion worth of common stock, while BB&T will offer $1.5 billion worth of common stock and Capital One will offer 56 million shares.
In other news, shares of Dish Network (DISH) are moving notably higher in pre-market trading after the satellite TV provider reported first quarter earnings that came in well above analyst estimates despite a net decrease in subscribers.
This week, traders will focus on the last leg of earnings season, including reports from retail giants Wal-Mart (WMT), J.C. Penney (JCP), Macy's (M), and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). The companies are scheduled to release their reports in the second half of the week.
Also later in the week, traders will be looking to some key economic reports on retail sales and consumer price inflation, which in tandem with earnings will give an indication of the health of the consumer.
Stocks showed a strong upward move over the course of the trading day on Friday, with the major averages ending notably higher after seeing some early volatility. The markets benefited from better than expected jobs data and a positive reaction to the results of the financial stress tests.
With Friday's gains, the major averages all closed higher for the week, with the Dow and the S&P 500 setting four-month closing highs. While the Dow and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 4.4 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, the Nasdaq rose a more modest 1.2 percent.
Crude oil futures are falling $1.70 to $56.93 a barrel after surging up $5.43 or 10.2 percent to $58.63 a barrel last week. Additionally, after rising $27.30 or 3 percent last week to $914.90 an ounce, gold futures are sliding $3.50 to $911.40 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar fell 0.8 percent against the yen last week to 98.47, while it slid 2.8 percent against the euro to $1.3634. The dollar is currently trading at 97.74 yen and is valued at $1.3581 versus the euro.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly lower on Monday, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index falling 1.7 percent after trending higher recently. However, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend, edging up 0.2 percent.
The major European markets are currently turning in a mixed performance, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index currently advancing 0.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down 1.9 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
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