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U.S. stock-index futures came under pressure Wednesday as turmoil mounted in Ukraine, the ruble continued sliding and traders eyed rising geopolitical uncertainty.
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As of 8:42 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 28 points, or 0.17%, to 16078, S&P 500 futures dipped 4.3 points, or 0.24%, to 1833 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 4 points, or 0.11%, to 3671.
The global picture is getting messy, and it's beginning to show up again in the financial markets.
Bloody battles between protestors who oppose President Viktor Yanukovich and police killed at least 25 people in Ukraine, according to news reports. The move has sent the cost to insure the country's debt rising, and presents a fresh worry on the European front. Meanwhile, the Russian ruble plunged to a fresh record low against the euro after the country decided to buy-up foreign currencies for its reserve fund, where it keeps extra energy revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In economic news, the Commerce Department said starts of new housing construction dropped 16% in January to an annual rate of 880,000 units, the biggest drop since February 2011. Economists were expecting a rate of 950,000 units.
Economists have pointed to bad weather as a major, if not temporary, issue for essentially every segment of the economy, from homebuilders to retailers.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported prices for finished goods rose 0.2% in January. Excluding the food and energy components, prices also rose 0.2%. Labor is using a revamped method for calculating prices, one economists say provides a broader look at prices across the economy.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy-setting meeting are set to be released at 2 p.m. ET. The minutes will shed light on the meeting in which the central bank decided to continue tapering its bond-purchasing program despite a string if disappointing jobs reports and tumult in emerging markets.
Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures climbed 67 cents, or 0.65%, to $103.10, extending a rally on the back of the growing geopolitical uncertainty. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline increased 0.05% to $2.83 a gallon. Gold fell $6.90, or 0.52%, to $1,317 a troy ounce.
In corporate news, Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) posted better-than-expected quarterly results and a full-year outlook that bracketed Wall Street's view after the bell Tuesday. The nutrition company has been fighting claims from Perhsing Square's Bill Ackman for more than a year that it is a "pyramid scheme."