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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Lower as Eurogroup Resumes Greek Aid Talks

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This could be another long night for Europe's finance ministers.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL As talks to resolve the fiscal cliff and the Greek rescue resume today, stocks are headed downward.

After Friday's rally, stock futures are lower ahead of the opening bell. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures slipped 0.40% 12,909.00. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures fell 0.46% to 1,398.80, and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures dropped 0.26% to 2,627.50.

Congress will return to work today after the Thanksgiving holiday to work on a deficit reduction deal to avert the fiscal cliff of higher taxes and reduced government spending. The two parties have just two weeks left to come to a deal.

The Chicago Federal Reserve's National Activity Index unexpectedly fell last month. After coming in at zero in September, the index fell to -0.56. Economists predicted it will rise to 0.18. Later this morning, the Dallas Fed's Texas-area manufacturing survey is expected to show an increase in business activity. The index is expected to improve to 4.7 from 1.8 in October.

The National Retail Federation said yesterday that US consumers spent $59.1 billion over the Thanksgiving break, an average of $423 per customer. Retailers such as Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) cut prices on their wares yesterday and today for an expanded 'Cyber Monday' sale. Traffic on Black Friday fell 1.8% as retailers extended early bird deals to Thursday night.

The holiday was also a cause for celebration for the entertainment industry. The box office tally from Wednesday to Sunday hit a record of $290 million. Lions Gate Films' (NYSE:LGF) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2 drew the most moviegoers, taking in $64 million. Fox's (NYSE: NWS) new release, Life of Pi, took in $30.2 million.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) shares advanced 1.78% after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) raised its recommendation to "conviction buy."

Europe's finance ministers are meeting for a third time in Brussels today to iron out a deal to disburse long-overdue aid funds to Greece. The Greek Parliament delivered on its end of the deal with austerity reforms, but friction between the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission has delayed the delivery of the funds. Anti-austerity parties are becoming more popular again as the push for labor market reforms, tax collection, and public pay cuts is not even getting Greece the money it needs. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters today that the Eurogroup will not even discuss writing off any Greek debt today.

In Spain, regional elections in Catalonia, an economically dominant area that includes the city of Barcelona, resulted in separatist parties gaining ground in the Catalan Parliament, but the party that pushed for independence the most lost seats. This makes the dream of an independent Catalonia much less likely.

Italian consumer confidence hit a record low of 84.8 in November, down from 86.2 in October. This is the lowest reading since ISTAT started measuring consumer sentiment in 1996.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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