NEW YORK -
Stock index futures fell on Wednesday on concerns over global economic growth after data suggested weakness in the euro zone's private sector, and economic bellwether FedEx cut its profit forecast.
The disappointing data and forecast from No. 2 package delivery company FedEx follow Tuesday's economic reports that show manufacturing in the United States shrank at its sharpest clip in more than three years last month. Market participants say these reports will boost chances of global central banks taking further action to aid the weak economy.
Media reports on Wednesday said that the European Central Bank would, with broad support from its council members, unveil an unlimited, sterilized program of bond purchases.
"With the ECB tomorrow laying out its bond-buying plan with implementation dependent on a country request for help and the Fed likely embarking on more action next week, the stock market is approaching the moment when the central bank news is out and market participants must determine if it's something that hasn't been discounted yet," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
"As I believe what will come over the next week will be no different than expectations, stocks are at growing risk of a sell on the news as attention shifts back to economic and earnings fundamentals and away from central bank money printing that can't reverse the economic realities, they can only temporarily cover them up."
The euro zone is likely to have slipped back into recession in the current quarter, according to a survey published on Wednesday that showed a seventh month of contraction for the bloc's private sector as new orders dwindled. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), published by Markit, showed the economic rot that began in smaller periphery members of the 17-nation bloc is now taking hold even in Germany, the region's largest and strongest economy.
China's services sector also grew at its slowest pace in a year in August, even though firms are hiring more workers at higher wages, the HSBC private sector survey showed on Wednesday, following gloomy manufacturing polls earlier in the week.
S&P 500 futures fell 5.2 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 18 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 11.50 points.
(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Dave Zimmerman)