Stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Wednesday as investors waited for key retail sales data for an indication of the mood of the U.S. consumer.
Retail sales are forecast to be flat in April compared with a fall of 1.2 percent in the previous month. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Expectations are up slightly, and people are looking for signs that there's some real improvement, not just leveling at the bottom, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The definition of 'better than expected' has been changing from not being horrible to actually showing some real improvement, he added, To the extent that sales show some real improvement it could be very positive for the market.
S&P 500 futures fell 5.8 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 shed 48 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were off 13 points.
The European Commission imposed a record fine of 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 billion) on chipmaker Intel Corp
The fine offset earlier optimism after Intel, the world's No. 1 chipmaker, said late Tuesday its orders and billing patterns have been slightly better than expected so far in the second quarter. Shares of Intel rose 1.3 percent to $15.45 in premarket trade.
The world's largest chip equipment maker, Applied Materials Inc,
Chrysler LLC's bankruptcy may take as long as two years, instead of the two months that U.S. President Barack Obama suggested as a target, Bloomberg reported, citing an administration official.
On Tuesday, the Dow gained ground as investors scooped up defensive shares such as Pfizer Inc
Since reaching historic lows in early March, the Dow has surged 30.9 percent and the S&P 500 has soared 36.2 percent.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)