Wall Street looked set for a slightly lower opening Wednesday after the latest report on private-sector employment arrived much weaker than expected.
The ADP report said the private sector added just 13,000 jobs in June, well below the 61,000 economists surveyed by Briefing.com predicted.
Stock index futures, which had been above fair value all morning, surrendered gains as worries about the health of the U.S. economic recovery brought out sellers.
After the start of trading, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) will be released, with economists looking for a small drop in the measure of June Midwest manufacturing activity to 59 from 59 the month before.
There was some optimism across the pond. The European Central Bank loaned banks 131.9 billion euros ($161.4 billion) at its 3-month lending auction Wednesday, below expectations. Banks have to pay back 442 billion euros to the ECB on Thursday.
The lower-than-expected demand for refinancing eased some worries about the banking system, pushing the euro higher against major currencies and lifting stocks in London, Frankfurt and Paris.
BP shares were among London's biggest movers as optimism grew that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be under control soon, and on belief that the company may draw interest in a takeover deal. BP rose more than 7 percent in London while its New York-traded shares gained 4.7 percent premarket.
AstraZeneca scored a victory in its Crestor patent case, causing a slew of analysts, including those at Morgan Stanley and UBS, to raise their view of the company. But after a 9 percent rally Tuesday, shares cooled off this morning, dropping nearly 1 percent in premarket trading.
A handful of deals could help move the market.
In biotech, Celgene has agreed to buy Abraxis Bioscience for at least $2.9 billion in cash and stock. The move will expand Celgene's cancer drug portfolio. Celgene shares lost 1.5 percent premarket while Abraxis jumped more than 20 percent.
Drug giant Sanofi Aventis said it intends to buy TargeGen for $560 million to expand its offering of oncology products.
And Dow component Boeing will pay $775 million for Argon in a bid to grow its sensors, communication technologies and information management capabilities.
Looking to Capitol Hill, the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform bill could come up for a vote in the House of Representatives Wednesday, where passage is expected. In negotiations, Democrats agreed to drop an $18 billion tax on banks and will find other means to fund the bill.
And the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission begins its two-day hearings on derivatives — especially those sold by Goldman Sachs and AIG — and the role of derivatives in the financial crisis.
- Reuters contributed to this report