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Stocks slip as politics grab spotlight

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Stock futures are falling slightly today, following overseas markets, before a week fraught with political uncertainty.

The S&P 500 is indicated to open lower by less than one-tenth of a percent. European indexes are down by more than half a percent after Asian bourses declined modestly in the overnight session. Currencies are also reflecting caution.

Last week investors dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and a flood of economic data. This week they're confronted by the presidential election, scheduled for tomorrow. On Wednesday, Greece will vote on a series of unpopular austerity measures, which could draw attention back to Europe's debt problems. The following day, China's ruling Communist party begins a weeklong congress to choose the country's next ruler.

The political events come against a backdrop of a mixed economic picture, with a slightly better U.S. employment situation and some signs of acceleration in China. The S&P 500 is also attempting to hold long-term support above 1400 after a surprise third-quarter rally.

The U.S. dollar and Japanese yen have been higher for most of the morning, which is consistent with risk aversion. Commodities are mixed, with copper and most agricultural foodstuffs lower. Silver and gold are up slightly, and oil is little-changed. Natural gas is down by almost 1 percent.

In company-specific news, Toyota Motors is up by 2 percent after raising its full-year profit guidance. Rockwell Automation is also climbing after earnings and revenue beat expectations.

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