After closing higher for the fourth consecutive week last week, stocks are likely to give back some ground in early trading on Monday. Profit taking is likely to contribute to any early weakness in the markets.
Some of the downward momentum reflects a reaction to negative comments from veteran banking analyst Mike Mayo, who recently left Deutsche Bank AG to join Calyon Securities.
Mayo initiated coverage of several banks with either Sell or Underperform ratings, citing concerns about increased loan losses and the belief that government actions might not help as much as expected.
Additionally, shares of Sun Microsystems (JAVA) are under considerable selling pressure in pre-market trading after media reports said that acquisition talks between IBM (IBM) and Sun have collapsed, putting the deal at risk of failure.
The reports said that Sun's board rejected a formal acquisition offer by IBM on Saturday, sending a notice terminating Sun's deal to hold talks exclusively with IBM. It is reported that, in return, IBM withdrew its offer to acquire Sun on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced an agreement with Otsuka Pharmaceutical to extend the U.S. portion of the companies' long-standing agreement for the development and commercialization of Abilify, or aripiprazole, from the currently scheduled end date of November 2012 until the expected loss of exclusivity in April 2015.
As per the company, the agreement with Otsuka will help build its earnings base for 2013 and transition its expected period of growth in 2014 and beyond. Under terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers will pay Otsuka an up-front cash payment of $400 million.
In other news, during a speech in Prague over the weekend, President Barack Obama said that the U.S. intends to lead the effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons and condemned a North Korean test launch earlier in the day as provocative.
Obama's first public speech in Europe since his inauguration in January came hours after Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket over the Pacific, defying appeals from the international community to back off its earlier announced launch plans.
Obama described the North Korean rocket launch on Sunday as a provocative act and urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocative actions.
Perched high above the city at the foot of Prague Castle, Obama pledged to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
Stocks suffered considerable uncertainty throughout most of Friday's session, ultimately closing higher on the day. The lack of direction came as traders digested weak employment data along with some positive remarks from Fed Chairman Bernanke.
After opening nearly flat, the Dow bounced back and forth across the unchanged line over the course of the session before ending the day up almost 40 points. The gain helped the blue chip index close above the 8,000 level for the first time since February 9th.
With the gains, the major averages all closed higher for the fourth straight session and the fourth straight week. The Dow rose 3.1 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures are falling $0.79 to $51.72 a barrel after the commodity showed significant volatility in the week ended April 3rd. The commodity ended the week up $0.13 or 0.3 percent at $52.51 a barrel, extending its winning streak to seven weeks.
Meanwhile, gold futures are currently declining $15.30 to $882 an ounce. In the previous week, the precious metal declined $28 or 3 percent to $897.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the dollar turned in a mixed performance last week, as it rose 2.5 percent against the yen to 100.315 yen but fell 1.4 percent against the euro to $1.3484. Currently, the dollar is trading at 100.75 yen and is valued at $1.3493 versus the euro.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended the day higher, unfazed by new of the rocket launch by North Korea on Sunday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index ended the day up 1.2 percent.
On the other hand, the major European markets have turned lower after seeing some earlier strength. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is currently down 0.9 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
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