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Premarket: Dow idles as Microsoft moves on Nook Add to ...

Global stocks looked set for a tame start on Monday, despite an interesting round of deal-making and rising anxiety over Spain's economic health.

U.S. index futures were down only slightly with about two hours before markets open, suggesting that stocks will retreat at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 12 points or 0.1 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 2 points or 0.1 per cent.

In Europe, the U.K.' FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX index were up 0.1 per cent each in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.4 per cent in overnight trading.

The tame moves coincide with more bad news from Spain, which has taken centre stage in the ongoing European sovereign-debt crisis recently. There, the country's economy contracted for the second straight quarter, puting Spain back into recession -- which is bitter news for a government that is trying to pull its deficit back with spending cuts and avoid a financial crisis. Meanwhile, Spain's banking sector has been hit by a widespread credit downgrade.

Still, this setback is hardly unexpected. Spain's economy contracted by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, over the fourth quarter, while economists had been expecting a 0.4 per cent contraction.

In deal-making news, Microsoft Corp. said it would make a $300-million (U.S.) investment in Barnes & Noble Inc.'s digital-book business, by taking a 17.6 per cent stake in the Nook. The deal values the Nook at $1.7-billion.

Meanwhile, Energy Transfer Partners LP said it would buy Sunoco Inc. for $5.3-billion, driving Sunoco's share price up 22.1 per cent in premarket trading.

Commodity prices were down slightly. Crude oil fell to $104.17 a barrel, down 0.7 per cent. Gold fell to $1,63 an ounce, down 0.1 per cent.

In economic reports, investors and economists will be looking at U.S. personal income and spending figures for March, as well as the Chicago purchasing managers index for April.

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