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Markets

Stocks fall as sequestration looms

Stocks are falling today as investors brace for political battle in Washington and after Chinese manufacturing data missed expectations.

S&P 500 futures are down half a percent, compared with losses of 1 percent to 2 percent in Europe. Most Asian markets declined slightly overnight.

While the S&P 500 began the year with a blazing rally, it's now showing signs of a pause. Yesterday's early gains were surrendered, and it made a lower high than its peak earlier in the week. Other charts that move in conjunction with equities--Treasury yields and the Japanese yen--have also halted their one-way moves after hitting potential resistance.

Attention now focuses on spending cuts in the United States under budgetary sequestration, plus the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing report at 10 a.m. ET. Next week brings monthly employment data.

China's purchasing managers index for February came in weaker than expected late last night, while European data early today met forecasts but showed ongoing contraction.

Commodities are painting a solidly negative picture, with oil and silver down by more than a full percentage point and copper losing 2 percent. Agricultural foodstuffs are also red across the board. Foreign-exchange markets are cautious as well, marked by U.S. dollar strength against every major currency.

In company-specific news, Deckers Outdoor is up more than 7 percent after issuing a bullish sales forecast for 2013. Intuitive Surgical is poised to rebound a similar amount after falling sharply yesterday on a Bloomberg report the government was probing its devices. OmniVision Technologies is down 10 percent after guiding the current quarter well below consensus.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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