Wall Street was set to open little changed on Wednesday after data for new orders of long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods recorded their biggest gain in two years in July, but rose less than forecast, excluding transportation.
The headline figure was up more much than expected, driven by a large increase in the transportation sector, not surprisingly. Excluding that, it was about as expected, said Dan Greenhaus, analyst at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
Investors will also eye new home sales data, due at 10 a.m. EDT, for insight into the health of the U.S. economy.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.3 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 dropped 5 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.25 points.
Crude oil futures were off nearly 1 percent on top of a decline of 3 percent on Tuesday after data showed a rise in U.S. crude stocks.
Buoyed by a surge in aircraft orders, durable goods orders jumped 4.9 percent, the largest advance since July 2007 after falling by a revised 1.3 percent in June, the government said.
A lack of follow-through from European stocks after a key measure of German business sentiment rose to its highest since September 2008 weighed down futures, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak. Key European stock indexes were down.
Earlier Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said U.S. mortgage applications rose for a second straight week, with demand for home refinancing loans rising to its highest level since early June.
U.S. stocks ended higher Tuesday as the economic data and the reappointment of Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke reassured investors and offset concerns about red ink in the federal budget.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)