U.S. stock index futures point to a slightly lower open Wednesday ahead of the Census Bureau's new home sales data and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.04 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.10 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were down 0.01 percent.
Investors are expected to focus on the September new home sales data to be reported after the markets open on Wednesday. The new home sales, measuring the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month, are expected to increase slightly to 390,000, up from 389,000 in September.
Investors are also expected to focus on the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which will be reported at 2 p.m. EST. The Beige Book, which is a report on the current economic conditions in each of the 12 Federal districts in the U.S., will give a picture of economic trends and challenges in the country. The report is likely to show some slight improvement and will describe the impacts from Hurricane Sandy on different regions and industries.
U.S. stock markets declined Tuesday, despite a better-than-expected economic report on durable goods orders and consumer confidence in October, as the lack of progress toward resolving the impending fiscal cliff weighed on market sentiment. Headline orders were flat against an expected drop of 0.7 percent, while core durable goods orders rose 1.5 percent against analysts’ estimates of a 0.5 percent monthly drop.
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Concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff regained momentum after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed disappointment over the lack of progress in budget talks. Reid said Tuesday that the negotiations to avert the impending fiscal cliff, a term used to describe a raft of tax increases and spending cuts that will start automatically next year if nothing is done, had made little progress.
On the earnings front, American Eagle Outfitters, Express Inc., Guess Inc. and TiVo Inc. will report their quarterly earnings. Guess Inc. is expected to report a third quarter net profit of $0.44 per share on revenue of $621.7 million after the closing bell Wednesday.
European stock markets were trading lower with the FTSE 100 down by 12.62 points, the DAX30 down by 6.01 points and the CAC 40 down by 12.70 points.
Asian stock markets mostly ended lower on fiscal cliff concerns. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.62 percent, China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.89 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.65 percent, while Japan's Nikkei plunged 1.22 percent, led by declines from exporter and steel maker shares.