Wall Street stocks were set for a slightly lower open on Tuesday as continued uncertainty over plans to stem the escalating debt crisis in Europe kept investors on edge.
Stock index futures were slightly lower, but well off lows as European stocks regained some footing, helped by bank shares, after hitting new two-year lows on fears tied to the debt crisis. <.EU>
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy were determined to do what is necessary and were going to take action today, a French government source said, but the French president's office denied a joint statement was planned.
Merkel sought to quash talk of an imminent Greek default, saying Europe was doing everything in its power to avoid a default.
It really just feels like we are stuck in a range for the time being until we get some answers, said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.
As a trader you've just got to be ready to reverse your position at any given moment. (It's) not a bad time to be a trader, but it's tough for those guys trying to build positions for the long term.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.9 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 were off 6 points, but Nasdaq 100 futures rose 4.25 points.
Wall Street ended higher Monday, bouncing back after reports that Italy's finance minister met with a delegation of Chinese officials to discuss buying Italian bonds. But another report later indicated Beijing may not buy the debt due to unstable European bond markets.
In economic data, U.S. import prices fell in August due to lower fuel, food and industrial material costs, the Labor Department said Futures barely budged after the report.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)