Stock futures signal lower open for equities

Wall Street

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The Mortgage Bankers Association releases at 7 a.m. ET its Weekly Mortgage Market Index for the week ended November 4, versus the prior week. The mortgage market index read 665.6 and the refinancing index was 3,539.3 in the previous week.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gives welcome and opening remarks at 9:30 a.m. ET before the Small Business and Entrepreneurship During an Economic Recovery conference.

The Commerce Department releases at 10 a.m. ET wholesale inventories for September. Economists forecast inventories to rise 0.5 percent versus a 0.4 percent increase in August.

Cisco, the maker of Internet networking gear, will report first-quarter financial results. The market expects a profit of 39 cents per share from 42 cents one year ago.

Ally Financial Inc, the U.S. auto and mortgage lender, is considering putting its Residential Capital LLC (ResCap) mortgage-lending unit into bankruptcy protection, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website.

Shares in Adobe Systems and Blue Nile fell 4.7 percent and 17 percent respectively in late trading on Tuesday after the companies announced results. SINA Corp reversed losses to gain 1.1 percent, while Activision Blizzard was up 4.1 percent after the bell.

China's annual inflation rate fell sharply in October to 5.5 percent in a further pullback from July's three-year peak, giving Beijing more room to fine-tune policy to help an economy feeling the chill of a global slowdown.

Allstate Corp's board of directors has approved a new $1 billion share repurchase program.

European stocks gained 0.5 percent on Wednesday, as investors cheered Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's pledge to step down, hoping his departure will speed up reforms to fix the country's finances and ease the euro zone debt crisis.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday for a second day in a row as late-day news about Europe sparked an afternoon rally that erased early weakness.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 101.79 points, or 0.84 percent, to 12,170.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 14.80 points, or 1.17 percent, to 1,275.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 32.24 points, or 1.20 percent, to 2,727.49.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Erica Billingham)