Stocks poised to fall from key level

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Stocks are edging lower today as the S&P 500 retreats from the key 1500 level.

Equity index futures are down by about 0.2 percent, matching similar declines in Germany and France. Currency markets are also sounding a cautious note as the euro falls and the Japanese yen rallies. Most Asian markets were higher, following bullish momentum in that region.

Today marks a relative lull in economic news before an onslaught of headlines the next three days. The ADP payrolls report and Federal Reserve monetary announcement come tomorrow. Thursday sees jobless claims and Chinese manufacturing data, while Friday brings European manufacturing reports and the all-important United States non-farm payrolls report.

The S&P 500 has been parked at a four-year high recently as investors wait for the news to hit. The only big data points today are the Case-Shiller index of home prices at 9 a.m. ET, followed one hour later by consumer confidence.

Foreign-exchange markets are modestly bearish amid the moves in the euro and the yen. The Australian dollar is bucking that trend by rallying after the country's business confidence came in better than expected last month. Commodities are mixed this morning, with oil little-changed but copper down slightly. Gold and silver are up by more than half a percent, rebounding from recent losses. Most agricultural foodstuffs are up slightly.

In company-specific news, Yahoo is indicated to open higher after its earnings beat expectations. Cloud-computing company VMware is sharply lower after issuing a weak outlook. Seagate Technology is also down after its revenue guidance missed consensus.

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