Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, February 1, 2011. REUTERS

Wall Street was set for a slight fall on Wednesday, after a strong run that has taken share prices to their highest levels in more than two and a half years, and with investors awaiting the latest batch of earnings in a reporting season in which most companies have beaten forecasts.

At 0913 GMT futures for the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was flat at 1,176.32 points.

The London Stock Exchange is to buy the Toronto Stock Exchange operator TMX in an all-share deal to create a major center for trading in mining shares, if likely political opposition in Canada can be overcome. LSE shares were up 8 percent. In Frankfurt shares in TMX were up 2.8 percent.

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis reported progress in talks to buy U.S. biotech firm as it predicted 5-10 percent lower earnings this year due to increased competition from generic drugs.

Apple has begun to make a new version of its iPad tablet computer with a front-facing camera and faster processor, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies at a congressional budget committee hearing chaired by one of the most prominent Republican proponents of spending cuts -- Representative Paul Ryan, who has said any vote to increase the debt ceiling must be twinned with a commitment to lower long-term spending.

Profit is expected to rise in IntercontinentalExchange's quarterly report. It is likely that the futures exchange and swaps clearinghouse will show that growing derivatives volumes and expansion into new business lines has paid off.

Tech bellwether Cisco is among companies reporting after the market close.

On Tuesday the Dow notched up a seventh straight day of gains, and reached the highest in more than two and a half years. Surprisingly strong sales by McDonald's boosted optimism on consumer spending and drove the Dow's gains on what turned out to be the quietest day of trading so far in 2011, with total volume about 17 percent below last year's daily average.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 0.6 percent; the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 0.4 percent; the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 0.5 percent.

Walt Disney Co's shares rose 3.2 percent after the bell as it posted results.