Stocks fall at the open Monday on U.S. budget and Greek aid uncertainties.



NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages opened lower Monday, following the biggest weekly advance since June, as investors continued to feel the drag of uncertainties over the eurozone and the U.S. budget.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 49 points, or 0.38%, at 12,960. The blue-chip index began the session up nearly 6% in 2012.

The S&P 500 was down 8.31 points, or 0.59%, at 1400. The Nasdaq was falling 8.99 points, or 0.29%, at 2958.

"Most of these uncertainties have been with us for quite some time, and are now regarded by many as annoyances to resolve rather than obstacles to fear," said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, of ongoing global economic headwinds. "What's more, we believe the manner in which these headwinds are resolved could result in an explosive rally rather than just a sigh of relief. Yet, handled inappropriately, these could end up causing a low flying economy to crash."

Eurozone finance ministers were to reconvene Monday for the third time in recent weeks to negotiate an agreement that might persuade international creditors to unlock the next tranche of bailout money to Greece before mid-December, when the country's next big debt repayment is due.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday provided reassurances that an agreement would be reached. Meanwhile, previous proposals on reducing the country's debt burden were raised again, including slashing interest rates on loans to Greece, a debt buyback and the European Central Bank's return of profits it generated through its Greek bond holdings.

Over the weekend a German media report indicated that some form of conditional forgiveness might be possible in 2015; however, the official stance in Berlin is that official sector debt forgiveness is not in the cards.

"While there is a good chance that an agreement is reached on Monday, we consider it unlikely that this will make Greek public finances sustainable on anything but paper," noted Michala Marcussen, global head of economics at Societe Generale.

Concerns over the so-called fiscal cliff in the U.S. will also be a main focus for investors as Congress returns to Washington this week.

Aneta Markowska, chief U.S. economist at Societe Generale, noted that part of the cliff concerns preferential tax rates on net investment income, and "the risk is that the capital gains tax could revert from 15% to 25%. At the macro and budget level, the impact hereof is modest, but there is clearly a risk of selling on financial markets into year-end."

The FTSE 100 in London was falling 0.47% on Monday, while the DAX in Germany was down 0.23%.

Japan's Nikkei average settled up 0.24% as exporters got a boost amid anticipation of more easing from the Bank of Japan and a weaker yen. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down by 0.24%.

Gold for December delivery was off 90 cents at $1,750.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts were down 92 cents at $87.36.



The benchmark 10-year Treasury was surging 11/32, diluting the yield to 1.655%. The dollar was up 0.06%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

U.S. stocks soared Friday as long checkout lines and positive economic data out of China and Germany supplied the fuel for a Black Friday lift-off.

Research firm ComScore estimated that Cyber Monday sales could exceed $1.5 billion.

Online retailers such as Amazon (:AMZN)and eBay (:EBAY), and more traditional retailers such as Wal-Mart(:WMT) and Target(:TGT), could see activity on Cyber Monday, when shoppers take to the Web to make their holiday purchases.

No major U.S. economic releases were expected on Monday.

In corporate news, Knight Capital Group (:KCG) could sell its market-making business -- the company's biggest and most profitable business -- but also the unit that suffered a trading glitch in August that cost the company losses of more than $460 million in the third quarter, a report said.

The securities firm has been approached by at least two rivals about its market-making operation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Knight expects to receive proposals this week from high-speed trading firms Getco and Virtu Financial, people briefed on the discussions told the newspaper.

Shares were surging by more than 9%.

UnitedHealth Group (:UNH) gave 2013 earnings guidance that was below the average Wall Street target.

Shares were down 1.5%. Yahoo! (:YHOO) shares were popping by more than 1% after the digital media stock was placed on Goldman Sachs' conviction buy list and the global investment banking and securities firm raised its price target on shares to $24.

Facebook (:FB) shares were jumping by more than 4% after shares of the social media giant were upgraded to outperform from market perform at Bernstein.

Apple (:AAPL) asked a federal court to add six more products to its patent infringement lawsuit against South Korea's Samsung. The products include the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III with Android 4.1, Galaxy S III mini, Samsung Rugby Pro, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Shares were up 0.44%.

Research In Motion (:RIMM) shares were spiking by more than 2.5% after shares of the BlackBerry maker were upgraded to sector outperformer from underperformer at CIBC.

Generac Holdings (:GNRC) shares were losing more than 3% after the designer and manufacturer of generators announced a secondary offering of 11.5 million common shares.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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