Wall Street was headed for a lower open after two Wall Street giants posted earnings that on their surface beat expectations but fell short of investor demands for a real turnaround.
Futures had been relatively flat but headed lower after Goldman Sachs reported earnings. The Wall Street titan reported earnings of $5.25 a share that appeared to beat analyst expectations, but traders sent shares lower by 3 percent in premarket trading.
Disappointment over Goldman's earnings spread through the financials, with the SPDR Financial ETF that tracks the sector's moves slipping 1.4 percent premarket.
Among the weak numbers for the company were investment bank earnings that fell 31 percent, but the reason for the fall in shares appeared to be that Goldman missed Wall Street's whisper number of how much the earnings beat should have been.
Goldman's disappointment was echoed by Citigroup , which posted a loss of 27 cents a share that also was better than feared but didn't assuage Wall Street's demand for better top-line numbers. Citi shares dropped 3.4 percent premarket.
Outside financials, US-traded Nokia shares fell 9.7 percent premarket after the company surprised Wall Street by swinging to a quarterly loss. The company said it was hurt by sagging smartphone sales and writedowns at its networks unit.
And the market was disappointed with motorcycle company Harley-Davidson, which posted a smaller profit than expected and saw its shares shed 4 percent premarket.
A batch of economic reports that either were benign or slightly better than expected did little to assuage the market's moods.
Weekly jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since January; the consumer price index rose 2 percent, in line with expectations; and New York manufacturing rose unexpected in September. Futures moved little on the data.
Other notable earnings reports before the bell will come from Southwest Airlines , Safeway and Winnebago among others.
Earnings reports after the closing bell will come from Google , IBM and Advanced Micro Devices .
Economic numbers will also be an important part of Thursday's market mix.
At 10 am New York time, the widely-watched Philadelphia Fed index for October will be released. It's seen as remaining in positive territory at 12.0, but that would be down from the September reading of 14.1.
At 10:30 am, the Energy Department will be releasing its weekly report on natural gas inventories. The weekly oil inventory numbers — delayed a day by the Columbus Day holiday this week — will be out at 11 am.
Chipmaker Xilinx will be a stock to watch today, as it reported quarterly profit of 25 cents a share, three cents above analyst estimates.
One possible damper on the market mood could be the latest report from RealtyTrac, which says home foreclosures rose more than 5 percent during the third quarter. Almost 938,000 properties were affected during the July through September period, compared to 890,000 during the prior three months.
— Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk, contributed to this report.