Stocks were slightly lower on Wednesday as concerns over a possible debt default by the United States continued to weigh on investor sentiment.
* A Republican plan to cut the deficit stiff opposition, piling anxiety onto investors and ordinary Americans hoping to avoid a default.
* Even if a default is avoided, a plan that flinches from hefty deficit cuts could result in a downgrade of the U.S. government's triple-A rating and raise borrowing costs, dealing a severe blow to the economic recovery.
* Credit Suisse strategists see a 50 percent chance of a credit ratings downgrade on U.S. debt, even if the ceiling is raised as key decisions on fiscal tightening are delayed until after the 2012 elections.
* Financial stocks were in focus after European banks such as Societe General
* Gold prices hit another record high at more than $1,623 an ounce, while the cost of insuring U.S. debt against a default in the next year hit a new high, according to data monitor Markit.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.4 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 4 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 3.25 points.
* Dunkin' Brands Group Inc
* Amazon.com Inc
* Boeing Co
* Investors also awaited earnings from ConocoPhillips
* On the macroeconomic front, the market waited for June durable goods orders. Economists in a Reuters survey saw a rise in orders of 0.3 percent versus a 2.1 percent increase in May.
* The stalemate in U.S. debt talks dragged down stocks for a second day on Tuesday, and light volume indicated that investors were reluctant to make bets despite another round of healthy earnings.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)