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At 8:50 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: -2.20; 1,414.50
NASDAQ 100: -6.00; 1,802.00
Dow: -18.00; 12,330.00

International Indexes

Asia
NIKKEI 225: +0.65%; 16,371.28 (+105.52)
HANG SENG: +0.43%; 19,026.36 (+82.17)
S&P/ASX 200: +0.74%; 5,466.70 (+40.20)
BSE SENSEX 30: +0.08%; 13,949.00 (+11.35)

Europe
FTSE 100: -0.11%; 6,079.90 (-6.50)
CAC 40: -0.56%; 5,329.78 (-29.91)
XETRA-DAX: -0.26%; 6,356.45 (-16.35)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: -0.32%; $62.23 (-$0.20)
Gold: -1.11%; $640.70 (-$7.20)
Natural Gas: -2.11%; $7.52 (-$0.16)
Silver: -1.50%; $13.815 (-$0.21)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Fairfax to Buy Rural Press for $2.1 Billion, Reducing Own Takeover Threat John Fairfax Holdings Ltd., Australia's second-largest newspaper publisher, agreed to buy Rural Press Ltd. for more than A$2.7 billion ($2.1 billion), restoring ties with the founding family that ran the company for 149 years.

Australian Economy Grows at Slowest Pace in Three Years on Investment Drop Australia's economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in the third quarter as business spending dropped and the nation's worst drought in a century cut farm output.

Asian Stocks Climb to Six-Month High; Mitsubishi UFJ, BHP Billiton Advance Asian stocks climbed to a more than six-month high, led by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:MTU) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM), after a Japanese government report showed the economy is improving and commodity prices rose.

China Had $23.4 Billion Trade Surplus Last Month, Xinhua News Agency Says China had a $23.4 billion trade surplus in November, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, citing figures from the customs bureau.

Japan's Leading Index Rebounds to 50 Percent; Economy to Keep Expanding Japan's broadest index of future economic activity rose to a four-month high in October, underscoring the central bank's view that Asia's largest economy will keep expanding. Stocks gained.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

NTL, Backed by Branson, Drops $9 Billion ITV Bid After Murdoch Buys Stake NTL Inc. (NTLI), the U.K.'s biggest cable- television company, abandoned a 4.73 billion-pound ($9.33 billion) offer for ITV Plc, ending a month of wrangling between billionaires Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson.

European Retail Sales Growth Accelerates, Adding to Case for Rate Increase Retail-sales growth accelerated in the euro region for a third month in November, giving the European Central Bank more scope to raise interest rates next year, the Bloomberg purchasing managers index showed.

Brown Says U.K. Economic Growth May Accelerate to 3.25 Percent Next Year Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown predicted that economic growth in Britain will accelerate this year and next after the nation suffered its slowest expansion since 1992 last year.

Royal Bank of Scotland Profit Will Rise More Than 11 Percent on Loan Fees Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, the largest arranger of syndicated loans in Europe, said earnings probably rose more than 11 percent during a record year for corporate combinations.

European Banking, Mining Stocks Advance; Cap Gemini, ITV Shares Decline European banking and mining stocks rose after metal prices rallied and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, the U.K.'s second-largest lender, forecast increased profit. Benchmarks were little changed.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Yahoo Promotes Decker to Lead Advertising; Two Executives Leave in Shakeup Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Terry Semel, pressed by investors to shore up the stock price, promoted Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker to a new job overseeing advertising sales as part of a broader shake-up.

Dollar Gains Most in Month; Report Suggests Job Market Strength The dollar gained the most in a month against the euro as a private report showed U.S. companies in November added the most workers since June.

Gates and Google's Schmidt Lead Insider Stock Sales to Highest Since 1987 Stock sales by America's corporate chieftains exceeded purchases last month by the widest margin since 1987, suggesting they don't share the confidence of investors who sent the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to a six-year high.

Paulson's Deal-Making Skills May Be Tested by Bush's Social Security Plan Henry Paulson brought together the world's largest razor maker and the world's largest household- goods company in last year's largest corporate takeover. He may find it much more difficult to bring Democrats and Republicans together to save the world's largest pension plan.

Lehman Gives Chief Executive Fuld $186 Million in Extra Stock for 10 Years Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH), the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm, said it will pay Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld an extra $186 million over the next 10 years.

Merck Forecasts Higher 2007 Profit on New Drugs, Cervical Cancer Vaccine Merck & Co. forecast higher profit in 2007 on sales of its newest treatment for diabetes and its cervical cancer vaccine, after closing plants, cutting jobs and introducing five drugs this year.

Source: U.S. To Open Lower