Stock futures stayed in negative territory on Wednesday after briefly paring losses as Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. reported its first quarterly net loss in nearly six years.

The world's largest brokerage reported write-downs of $7.9 billion.

S&P 500 futures were at about the same level as before Merrill's announcement, down 9.50 points and below fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell further, declining 73 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 19 points.