Futures Weaken After After GDP Revision

Stock index futures weakened slightly ahead of the open Wednesday after news third-quarter GDP grew slightly more than reported previously, but less than expected.

Third-quarter gross domestic product was revised to an annualized rate of 2.6 percent from a previously estimated 2.5 percent, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected GDP to be revised slightly higher, to 2.8 percent, according to Reuters.

While inventory accumulation rose faster than expected, consumer spending was revised down to a 2.4 percent rate from a 2.8 percent rate, the Commerce Department said. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Also, the government said after-tax corporate profits were revised to show a 0.2 percent rise in the third quarter instead of 1 percent, after rising 3.9 percent in the second quarter. The result was the weakest reading since the end of 2008.

Elsewhere in economic news, existing home sales will be released at 10 a.m. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect home sales will have risen to 4.71 million in November, up from 4.43 million the month before.

Meanwhile, mortgage applications fell to the lowest level in nearly a yearas refinancings tumbled in the wake of rising interest rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

In stocks news,Nike shares tumbled after the bell Tuesday after the company reported better-than-expected earnings but disappointing future orders.

Analysts had expected orders - a key measure of sales growth - to exceed the 11 percent reported by Nike.

Microsoft rose before the bell on media reports it is developing a new version of its widely used Windows operating system that targets low-power devices such as tablets.

Oil and resource-related stocks will also be in focus after oil prices crossed $90 a barrel for the first time since October 2008 late on Tuesday, supported by data showing a drop in U.S. oil and gasoline inventories and a cold snap in the United States and Europe.

Walgreen shares jumped after the drugstore chain reported better-than-expected profitsfor its fiscal first quarter thanks to higher margins. Walgreen's profits for the quarter ended Nov. 30 rose to $580 million, or 62 cents a share, up from $489 million, or 49 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected the drugstore chain to earn 54 cents a share.

Bed, Bath and Beyond and Micron report after Wednesday's close.

In addition, investors will keep an eye on geopolitical developments on Wednesday afterSouth Korea announced land and sea military exercises including its largest-ever live-fire drill near North Korea just as tension on the peninsula was beginning to ease.

European stocks edged higher in morning trade.

On the Calendar This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Existing home sales, oil inventories; after-the-bell earnings from Bed, Bath & Beyond, Micron.
THURSDAY: NYSE early close; durable goods orders, personal income and spending, weekly jobless claims, consumer sentiment, new home sales.
FRIDAY: Markets closed for Christmas.

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