LONDON -- After markets closed sharply higher in Friday's shortened trading session, stock futures indexes at 7:30 a.m. EST suggest opening falls of 0.4% for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) .
With no major economic data scheduled for release today, markets could focus on the fiscal-cliff negotiations and the ongoing discussions over Greek aid payments and debt restructuring. Both issues have become increasingly urgent over recent weeks: There are only four weeks until the Christmas break for a deal to be reached on the fiscal cliff, while Greece is at increasing risk of running out of cash if it does not receive the next installment of its bailout deal very soon.
Corporate earnings reports are also thin on the ground today, but the shares of major retailers are likely to see strong interest as these companies enter the key holiday-season shopping period. Amazon, eBay, Target, and Wal-Mart are among those that may benefit, with several of these stocks making gains in premarket trading this morning. Consumers spent a record $59.1 billion over the Black Friday weekend, according to figures released on Sunday by the National Retail Federation. Investors will be keen to see whether this momentum can be maintained until Christmas or if pre-Christmas spending has been brought forward to take advantage of the weekend's heavy discounting and promotional offers.
The main European markets lost ground this morning as investors waited to see whether eurozone finance ministers would make any progress in today's meeting to discuss Greek debt-restructuring. The meeting was underway at 7 a.m. EST and is the third attempt at reaching a deal in recent weeks.
At 7:30 a.m. EST, the DAX was down 0.38%, the CAC 40 was down 0.87%, the FTSE MIB was down 0.61%, and the IBEX 35 was down 0.7%. In London, the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) was down 0.65%, with Barclays proving the biggest drag, down 4.5% on news that Qatar's sovereign wealth fund is selling its remaining warrants in the lender. These were issued when Qatar Holdings provided additional funding for Barclays at the height of the financial crisis. Qatar Holdings will remain the bank's largest shareholder with a 6.7% stake.
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