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Futures down a day after strong rally

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stocks are poised to open lower this morning after Hewlett-Packard issued a weak profit forecast.

S&P 500 futures are down by about 0.2 percent after surging 2 percent yesterday amid optimism that the United States would avert fiscal crisis. This morning, Moody's placed government debt at center stage again by stripping France of its AAA credit rating. Most European bourses are modestly lower, and Asian markets also fell slightly in the overnight session.

Investors must now decide whether yesterday's bounce was the start of a real rebound or an opportunity to reduce risk. Attention is likely to focus on U.S. consumers this week as retailers prepare for the holiday shopping season. Economic data will have a similar focus, with housing starts today and consumer sentiment tomorrow. U.S. markets are closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Commodities are signaling a cautious tone, with oil and copper down by half a percent. Most agricultural foodstuffs and precious metals are also lower. Currencies are more modestly bearish, with the euro down very slightly despite France losing its AAA rating. The Japanese yen, however, is down, which is potentially bullish for risk assets.

The big pre-market mover is Hewlett-Packard, whose fourth-quarter revenue missed expectations. It also forecast profit in the coming quarter of $0.68 to $0.71, well below the $0.85 average analyst estimate. HPQ is down by 11 percent in early trading.

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