NEW YORK – U.S. futures fell Monday following data out of Europe that showed government debt continues to pile up despite severe budget cuts that have led to social unrest across the continent.
U.S. corporate news was not promising, either.
Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 131 points to 12,857 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 futures are off 14.5 points at 1,360.7. Nasdaq composite index futures fell 22.25 points to 2,652.
The European Union statistics office released data that suggests it may be a long time before countries there bring deficits and debt under control, or at least below EU-stipulated limits of a deficit of 3 percent and debt of 60 percent of gross domestic product.
At a time of harsh austerity measures in Europe, overall debt rose to 87.2 percent of GDP – the highest level since the euro was created in 1999.
The downturn in Europe was especially pronounced in France in the midst of a contentious presidential election.
A strong showing by the far-right candidate for the Socialist party has unsettled markets. The country is poised to elect Socialist Francois Hollande its next president, but the candidate on the far-right also had a very strong showing.
With President Nicolas Sarkozy in trouble, France’s CAC-40 index dropped 2.3 percent, while Germany’s main index fell an even sharper 2.7 percent. The euro slid 0.4 percent.
France was not alone with its potential for a political upheaval.
The Dutch government neared collapse Monday after negotiations over tough new economic measures there failed. The prime minister was preparing to speak with the queen.
Dour corporate news out of the U.S. is pressuring stocks before the market opens, too.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. tumbled 5 percent following a report in The New York Times about allegations of a vast bribery campaign involving top executives at a Mexican subsidiary.
Trouble in Europe is having a direct effect on Kellogg Co., which slashed its 2012 forecast on poor sales. Shares fell 6 percent ahead of the market opening. And Hasbro Inc. posted a first-quarter loss on falling sales and the cost of cutting jobs. Its shares tumbled 4 percent in premarket trading.
ConocoPhillips reported that its net income during the first quarter slid 3 percent.
After the market closes, Netflix Inc. is scheduled to release quarterly earnings.