Stock index futures dropped sharply on Wednesday as weaker manufacturing data in China and a gloomier economic outlook from the Federal Reserve led to mounting concerns about the health of the global economy.
China reported a slowdown in factory output, adding to the picture of softening domestic demand painted by other data a day earlier that showed a sharp drop in import growth.
The news out of Asia, once again underscoring a sluggish growth, is adding pressure to our market, said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore.
Investors remained rattled by the Fed's downgrade of its economic outlook. The central bank's measure to support the fragile recovery failed to reassure.
A statement from the Fed's Open Market Committee on Tuesday said the Fed would begin funneling proceeds from maturing mortgage bonds it holds into longer-term government debt to keep borrowing costs low.
A tepid response in stocks on Tuesday suggested investors didn't see the actions as having much immediate impact on the weak labor market and slowing consumer spending, two headwinds facing the recovery.
S&P 500 futures fell 16.3 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 dipped 119 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 28.75 points.
The utilities and healthcare sectors, which tend to hold up better in a weak economy, will continue to be in focus.
Economic data on tap on Wednesday includes June international trade at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect the U.S. international trade gap to be trimmed slightly to $42 billion for June.
Companies scheduled to report quarterly results on Wednesday include Cisco Systems
Walt Disney Co
World stocks hit a 1-1/2 week low on Wednesday, while the U.S. dollar fell to a 15-year low against the yen. The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell nearly 1 percent.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)