Stock index futures fell on Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 closed at a 15-month high, as investors braced for a private report on jobs that is a precursor to the closely watched government non-farm payrolls report due Friday
The U.S. ADP employment data is expected to show that private employers cut 73,000 jobs in December, versus 169,000 in November. The data is due at 8:15 a.m. EST.
For the employment data, economists polled by Reuters see a decline of 8,000 in non-farm payrolls after a surprisingly small 11,000 drop in November. The unemployment rate is seen rising to 10.1 percent from 10 percent in November.
Investors will also watch the ISM non-manufacturing index due at 10:00 a.m. EST. Economists look for a reading of 50.5, up from November's 48.7, indicating expansion rather than contraction.
I see a bit of profit taking ahead of the jobs data today and Friday since we had a very bullish start this week on Monday and a moderately bullish (market) yesterday, said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital in Baltimore.
S&P 500 futures lost 3 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 fell 34 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 5.75 points.
At 2 p.m. EST, the Federal Open Market Committee will release minutes from its mid-December meeting.
U.S. retailers saw a strong finish to the 2009 holiday season, even though sales fell at apparel chains and department stores in December, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse.
Financial stocks may be influenced by an announcement that U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd will not seek re-election, sources said. The Connecticut Democrat has been dogged by questions over his financial industry connections and has faced a tough re-election bid.
After the bell Tuesday, fertilizer producer Mosaic Co
Kraft Foods Inc
Oil prices remained below $82 a barrel after unexpectedly bearish U.S. inventory data, ending a 9-day rally that contributed to a new year's rally in equities.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)