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Ahead of Wall Street

U.S. stock futures are down following reports the the U.S. congressional "super-committee" has again failed to reach an agreement to cut $1.2 trillion in spending. The official deadline for an agreement to be reached is this Wednesday, but nobody seems to be holding out much hope. Perhaps what everyone could agree upon is to take the term "super" out of the name "super-committee."

At 10:00am ET, new data on existing home sales will be released. October numbers are expected to slip to 4.85 million from 4.91 million in September. This, plus the months of supply numbers (8.5 months in September -- notably higher than the normal level of 6 months), are expected to keep downward pressure on home prices.

In mergers and acquisitions news this morning, Gilead Sciences (GILD - Analyst Report) is reportedly buying hepatitis-C treatment maker Pharmasset for $11 billion, or $137 per share. This is nearly a 90% premium from VRUS' Friday closing price. Gilead expects this transaction to be dilutive through 2014 and profitable thereafter. Property and casualty insurer Alleghany (Y - Snapshot Report) has agreed to purchase TransAtlantic for $3.4 billion.

Tyson Foods (TSN - Analyst Report) reported a weaker-than-expected 26 cents per share, down 54% year over year. The Chicken business -- Tyson's "bread and butter," if you'll pardon the expression -- reported a Q4 loss, and the company is cutting chicken production going forward. IT distributor Tech Data (TECD - Analyst Report) missed earnings expectations slightly this morning on 7% year-over-year growth.

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