Wall Street was set for a lower open on Wednesday after a warning for Spain about its credit rating rekindled fears about the euro-zone debt crisis.
Futures fell after Moody's said it could downgrade Spain's debt, but the losses were trimmed after U.S. data showed manufacturing activity rebounded in New York state after falling sharply in prior month.
Manufacturing was favorable. Manufacturing is holding up well. Stocks should still be supported after modest declines, said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Other data showed U.S. consumer prices rose slightly less than expected in November, while prices excluding food and energy edged up for the first time since July, implying virtually no inflation pressures amid an anemic recovery.
S&P 500 futures were down 4 points and 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 fell 17 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 5 points.
Wall Street ended mostly flat on Tuesday on a late-day sell-off after another cautious assessment on the strength of the economy from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The S&P 500 is up more than 7 percent from a year ago but bullish sentiment continued to rise among financial advisers surveyed in the weekly Investors' Intelligence poll.
The percentage of financial advisers who are bullish on the stock market rose to 56.8 percent, up from 56.2 percent last week. The percentage of bearish investors fell to 20.5 percent from 21.3 percent last week, according to the poll.
The current above-55 percent (bullish) reading makes it risky to take on many new positions, with a strong likelihood that the rally is nearing a top, Investors' Intelligence said in a note to clients.
Federal Reserve data on Wednesday showed U.S. industrial output rose 0.4 percent in November, its biggest gain since July and the latest sign of a firmer end to the year for the world's largest economy.
U.S.-traded shares of Novartis rose 7.9 percent to $60.26, and Alcon gained 2.1 percent to $165.88 in premarket.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)