US Stock Futures Signal Lower Wall Street Open

 @ibtimes
on April 23 2012 5:28 AM

(REUTERS) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open for equities on Wall Street on Monday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 falling 0.8 to 0.9 percent.

Trade in Europe and Asia was dominated by political developments in France and the Netherlands which raised fears about the euro zone's commitment to tackling its debt crisis.

Swiss food group Nestle is to buy U.S. drugmaker Pfizer's infant nutrition business for $11.85 billion, beating out French rival Danone in the battle to gain preeminence in the lucrative baby food market.

AstraZeneca has agreed to buy U.S. biotech company Ardea Biosciences for $1.26 billion, giving it access to a new drug for treating gout patients in the latest deal to try and bolster its weak drug pipeline.

Financial leaders from around the world, who wrapped up talks in Washington over the weekend, agreed to provide the International Monetary Fund with a further $430 billion to safeguard economies from the euro zone debt crisis.

Beam Inc. is set to buy Pinnacle vodka and rum brand Calico Jack from White Rock Distilleries Inc for around $600 million in cash, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Allegations that Wal-Mart Stores stymied an internal investigation into extensive bribery at its Mexican subsidiary are likely to lead to years of regulatory scrutiny and could eventually cost some executives their jobs.

Major companies announcing results included Xerox and Texas Instruments.

Europe's top shares fell 1.5 percent on Monday as political tensions in Europe and mixed data from China prompted falls in banking and basic resource stocks.

Far-right voters may decide who becomes France's next president after anti-immigration crusader Marine Le Pen's record first-round score jolted the race between Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Netherlands, a core euro zone member, was drawn into Europe's debt crisis at the weekend when the government failed to agree on budget cuts, making elections almost unavoidable and casting doubt on its support for future euro zone measures.

China's factories posted their best performance this year as a measure of new business rose from multi-month lows, a private sector purchasing managers survey showed, though overall activity still contracted for a sixth successive month.

Germany's manufacturing sector unexpectedly shrank at the fastest pace in nearly three years in April, denting hopes it can drive growth in the euro zone and casting a shadow over upbeat business sentiment surveys.

U.S. 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 day's highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 65.16 points, or 0.50 percent, to 13,029.26. The S&P 500 Index gained 1.61 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,378.53. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.11 points, or 0.24 percent, to 3,000.45.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; editing by Patrick Graham)

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