Stocks are falling this morning as investors focus on fiscal problems in the United States and Europe.
S&P 500 futures are down by about 0.4 percent, compared with losses of more than half a percent across the Atlantic. Most indexes were also lower in Asia during the overnight session.
Today's moves come amid a paucity of news as attention returns to worrying about the U.S. "fiscal cliff," which threatens to raise taxes and lower spending, and Greece's near-insoluble debt crisis. The only headline today, Germany's ZEW survey of economic sentiment, came in much weaker than expected--the latest in a string of poor data from Europe's biggest economy.
The only other report today was October's NFIB Survey of Small Business Optimism for the U.S. It showed improvement to a 93.1 from 92.8 the previous month but generally has little impact on broader sentiment.
Foreign exchange and commodities are signaling a modest sense of caution as well. The euro is edging lower against the greenback, as are economically sensitive currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars.
Copper and oil, which also tend to follow sentiment, are posting small losses as well, while silver and platinum are gaining. Gold is little-changed, and most agricultural foodstuffs are slightly higher.
In company-specific news, Home Depot is higher by almost 3 percent after third-quarter earnings beat expectations and management raised guidance amid a stronger housing market. Dick's Sporting Goods also rose after profit and revenue beat expectations. Later this morning, retailer TJX will report results, followed by technology giant Cisco Systems after the close.
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