U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open Wednesday as investors looked to policy makers for new stimulus measures to revive global economic growth.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average index were down 0.44 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index were down 0.32 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were down 0.38 percent.
The Dept. of Labor will report revised nonfarm productivity data on Wednesday. The report measures the annualized change in labor efficiency for producing goods and services, excluding the farming industry. It is expected that second-quarter productivity will be revised to a 1.8 percent increase in the annual rate in the nonfarm business sector, up from a 1.6 percent rise that was initially reported and a 0.9 percent decrease in the first quarter.
The Dept. of Labor will also report on Wednesday revised unit labor costs data. The report measures the annualized change in the price that businesses pay for labor, excluding the farming industry. It is expected to increase 1.5 percent in the second quarter, compared to the initial estimate of 1.7 percent and the 1.3 percent rise in the first quarter.
On Tuesday, U.S. markets were mixed as investors' concerns about the weakening economy were revived by declining manufacturing activity. Investors were focused on the Institute of Supply Management's (ISM) U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which was reported Tuesday. The ISM manufacturing index, which rates the relative level of business conditions including employment, production, new orders, prices, supplier deliveries and inventories, declined to 49.6 in August, down from 49.8 in July. On the index, a level below 50 indicates industry contraction.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.42 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.12 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.26 percent.
European markets remained in a tight range as investors continued to be nervous ahead of the next European Central Bank meeting, from which new policy measures to boost the euro zone economy are expected. London's FTSE 100 was down 2.10 points, Germany's DAX 30 Index rose 1.04 points and France's CAC 40 declined 23.22 points.
Asian markets fell Wednesday as investor confidence was weighed down by disappointing services activity in China. According to the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) released Wednesday, China's services activity growth declined in August to the slowest pace in a year after a recovery in July. The services PMI dropped to 52 in August as compared to 53.1 in July.
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