The U.S. stock index futures point to a lower open Wednesday ahead of the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims data.
The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.20 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were down 0.28 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.34 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on the weekly U.S. jobless claims data to be reported Wednesday. The initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, is expected to decline to 410,000 in the week ending Nov. 17, down from 439,000 in the previous week.
Investors are also waiting for the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final consumer sentiment index for November which is due to be released after the markets open. The revised version of the data is expected to show that confidence levels have slipped slightly to 84.0 from its preliminary estimate of 84.9.
On the earnings front, Deere & Co. will report its quarterly earnings before the markets open. The company is expected to report the fourth quarter net income of $1.88 on revenue of $8.82 billion, up from $1.62 a share on revenue of $7.9 billion in the same period last quarter.
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The U.S. stock markets pared earlier losses and ended on a flat note Tuesday. Hewlett-Packard Co. led the technology shares lower after the company announced that it had taken an $8.8 billion charge linked to its acquisition of software firm Autonomy, citing "serious accounting improprieties."
Sentiment was also weighed down by fears about the U.S. fiscal cliff after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had warned that there was not much the monetary policy could do to prevent the U.S. economy from falling back into recession if law makers failed to avert the potential fiscal crisis.
European markets declined Wednesday after the euro zone finance ministers failed to clinch a deal that would unblock the next tranche of financial aid to debt-laden Greece. After nearly 12 hours of talks in Brussels, European officials ended the discussion on Athens’s next tranche of bailout without a deal and said they would meet again Monday.
London's FTSE 100 was down 11.07 points, Germany's DAX 30 index fell 11.37 points and France's CAC 40 declined 15.97 points.
Most of the Asian stocks ended with gains Wednesday with Hong Kong's Hang Seng surging 1.39 percent and Chinese Shanghai Composite advancing 1.07 percent. Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.87 percent despite the official data showing that Japan’s merchandise trade balance had remained in deficit for four straight months as exporter companies’ shares surged on a weaker yen.
Japan recorded a trade deficit of 549 billion yen ($6.7 billion) in October, much worse than the economists' estimate of a 360 billion yen deficit as exports to China continued to slump following a territorial spat between Tokyo and Beijing.