Futures turn mixed after durable goods orders; budget debate in focus
U.S. stock index futures were mixed Wednesday following the latest durable goods orders report and as the House of Representatives were set to meet to debate the debt ceiling.
The Senate is expected to reject a measure that would fund the government until month-end on Wednesday, but would partially defund Obamacare. If a deal is not struck, it could force a partial shutdown of the government.
(Read more: Here's who might win if DC shuts down)
Chris Scicluna, an economist at Daiwa Capital, predicted that Wednesday would bring no further resolution, and markets would continue to track lower. Wall Street logged a fourth successive day of losses on Tuesday, with investors cautious amid budget discussions in Washington and tapering talk at the Federal Reserve.
"We expect little light to be offered today on the major U.S. policy issues overshadowing global markets — the Congressional fiscal impasse and the likely schedule for Fed tapering," Scicluna said in a morning note.
On the economic front, durable goods orders climbed 0.1 percent in August, according to the Commerce Department.
Weekly mortgage applications gained for a second week as interest rates declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
New home sales report for August is due at 10 am ET.
Amazon.com nudged higher after the online retailer said it plans to unveil two new versions of its Kindle e-reader.
Among earnings, AutoZone ticked higher after the auto parts retailer posted earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street expectations.
The Treasury will auction $35 billion of five-year notes. Benchmark 10-year notes gained for the fourth straight session on Wednesday, and for the 12th time in 14 days, with yields down at 2.64 percent.
The recent strength in Treasurys had helped absorb the wave of new bond supply globally, including General Motors' deal from Tuesday. The automaker priced $4.5 billion in 5-year, 10-year and 30-year bonds, with the deal underpinned by a jumbo order book in excess of $25 billion.
In global news, President Barack Obama cautiously welcomed overtures from Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday as the basis fora possible nuclear deal and rapprochement between the countries. The leaders did not have time to meet in person at the ongoing U.N. General Assembly, however.
In Europe, newly re-elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc has confirmed it is looking to form a "grand coalition" with its rival Social Democratic Party, shunning the Green party as a possible partner.
In France, the government will present its budget for 2014 on Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET. Market-watchers are expecting the plan to include reducing the tax burden on businesses, and around 15 billion euros ($20 billion) of cuts to government spending and 3 billion euros of tax rises.
(Read more: Will business be the winner in France's 2014 budget?)
Meantime, Asian stocks were mostly lower on Wednesday amid uncertainty surrounding U.S. budget discussions.
"With the markets very light in terms of movement as investors continue to re-position themselves after the Fed meeting and now look to Washington regarding the debt ceiling, it feels almost like they are waiting to be spooked," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, in a note.
(Read more: Why Fed taper is looking more distant)