US Stock Futures Point To Sharply Lower Open On Europe Woes

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(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures pointed to a sharply lower open on Monday on weak European data and renewed anxiety over how the region would tackle its debt crisis, while Wal-Mart slumped after a report it stymied a probe into bribery allegations.

The euro zone's business slump deepened at a far faster pace than expected in April as European factories had their worst month since June 2009. Investors worried that fears of recession would undermine the political will to tackle the debt crisis.

Politics added to concerns about Europe. France's presidential election was thrown wide open by the surprisingly high score of a far-right candidate in the first round vote while the Dutch government was set to resign in a crisis over budget cuts.

Europe's debt crisis has been a major headwind for equities as investors worried it may affect growth and corporate profits. While the S&P snapped a 2-week string of losses last week, it remains down 2.9 percent from a closing high in early April.

The real problem is the deterioration in the political backdrop in Europe, said Jack de Dan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

If we can't deal with the budget problems here and in Europe, everything is going to resolve to the negative and the financial markets will show it, we'll lose all this advance we got in the first quarter and more.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc dropped 4.5 percent to $59.65 in premarket trading after the New York Times reported officials at the retailer stymied an internal investigation into allegations of extensive bribery at its Mexican subsidiary.

S&P 500 futures fell 15 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 136 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures sank 23.5 points.

Kellogg Co fell 6.3 percent to $50.57 premarket after the cereal maker cut its full-year profit view.

Xerox Corp rose 1.9 percent to $8.02 after the copier machine maker forecast a rise in second-quarter earnings, while ConocoPhillips was off 2.2 percent at $71.25 after it reported lower profit.

Shares of D.R. Horton Inc rose 0.8 percent to $15.50 before the bell after the homebuilder reported a jump in new orders for the third straight quarter and forecast stronger profitability in the second half of the year.

So far, earnings have been solid, with more than 80 percent of S&P 500 companies topping consensus profit forecasts.

Stocks mostly rose on Friday, led by solid earnings from McDonald's, General Electric and Microsoft, but declines in banks and technology shares pulled indexes from their highs of the day.

(Additional reporting by Ed Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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