Forexpros - U.S. stock futures pared losses on Wednesday, as better-than-expected data on durable goods orders boosted sentiment, while markets continued to look ahead to Friday's speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Ahead of the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to loss of 0.15%, the S&P 500 futures indicated a drop of 0.1%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures showed a 0.2% decline.
Stock futures pared early losses after official data showed that durable goods orders rose significantly more-than-expected in July, while core durable goods orders, which exclude transportation items, rose unexpectedly.
Meanwhile, shares in the financial sector were down in pre-market trade after Bank of America lowered its price target on major Wall Street banks, citing weaker markets, increased volatility and the impact from euro zone sovereign debt issues.
Citigroup shares dropped 1.4%, Morgan Stanley declined 1.6%, shares of JP Morgan slumped 1.1%, while Bank of America saw shares fall 1.3%
Shares in insurers came under pressure amid heightened concerns over Hurricane Irene. The U.S. National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a category 3 hurricane earlier as it heads towards the U.S. east coast.
American International Group saw shares retreat 1.85%, while shares in The Travelers Companies slumped 1.1%.
In earnings news, luxury home builder Toll Brothers saw shares climb 0.5% after reporting a 54% increase in fiscal third quarter net income. However, executive chairman Robert Toll said, "consumer confidence is still weak and the housing sector remains in a fragile state".
Other notable earnings scheduled for Wednesday included clothing retailer Guess, as well as semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were broadly higher, adding to gains following the durable goods data. The EURO STOXX 50 jumped 1.2%, France's CAC 40 gained 1.45%, Germany's DAX surged 2.5%, while Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 1%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 2.06%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index retreated 1.07%, after ratings agency Moody's downgraded Japan's sovereign debt rating by one notch.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish industry data on home prices as well as a government report on crude oil stockpiles.