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Stock-index futures signaled Wall Street may pull back as traders take a breather following Tuesday's surge and mulled unexpectedly hawkish commentary from global central banks.
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As 9:00 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 36 points to 12988, S&P 500 futures dipped 3.9 points to 1380 and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 3.3 points to 2710.
The S&P 500 soared 1.6% in a broad-based rally on Tuesday as traders cheered generally upbeat first-quarter earnings from several big companies and brushed aside worries about the eurozone debt crisis. The mood across American and European trading desks was decidedly dimmer on Wednesday.
Minutes from the Bank of England showed that only one individual on the central bank's policy-setting board pushed for additional quantitative easing to help sooth financial markets and boost the Great Britain's economy. Traders were expecting more support for additional easing, according to analysts at Nomura.
The Riksbank, which is Sweden's central bank, also held interest rates steady. Some analysts there were anticipating a rate cut, but it was "a very close call," Barclays Capital said in a research note. Barclays also noted that the Riksbank's commentary was also generally more upbeat than was expected.
Overall, market participants are beginning to question whether global central banks are going to reduce stimulus plans as the economy starts to recover and inflationary headwinds tick higher. They also remained cautious about the debt situation in Spain, with a long-term debt sale just looming just a day away. Indeed, Germany paid a record low interest rate on its two-year notes at an auction on Wednesday as traders shifted into the safe-haven asset, according to data from the Wall Street Journal.
European blue chips slid 1.7%, while the greenback climbed 0.43% as tracked by the dollar index.
In earnings news, Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), the world's second-biggest oilfield servicing company, said its profits and revenue climbed on a year-to-year basis in the first quarter, coming in ahead of analysts' expectations. Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) posted earnings that beat expectations after the closing bell on Tuesday, boosting its shares. However, Dow component Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) fell after offering relatively week gross margin forecast for the second quarter. IBM (NYSE:IBM), another blue chip, also dipped after missing revenue expectations in its first quarter.
American Express (NYSE:AXP) and EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) are both set to post results after the close of trading on Wednesday.
Commodities were mostly in the red. Crude oil traded in New York fell 10 cents, or 0.1%, to $104.11 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slid 4 cents, or 1.4%, to $3.19 a gallon.
In metals, gold slumped $9.80, or 0.59%, to $1,641 a troy ounce. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell 0.01-percentage point to 1.992%.
European blue chips slid 1.7%, the English FTSE 100 dropped 0.48% to 5739 and the German DAX dipped 0.91% to 6739.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 2.1% to 9667 and the Chinese Hang Seng rose 1.1% to 20781.