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Stock-index futures shed gains and slipped into the red as traders parsed through mixed headlines on Europe's debt debacle.
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As of 8:30 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 16 points to 12,095, S&P 500 futures lost 2.5 points to 1,252 and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 5.5 points to 2,316.
Europe has emerged as the central theme of the week, with the key meeting of policymakers now looming just two days away, and little economic data slated for release.
Analysts have struck a cautiously-optimistic tone, pointing to a smattering of relatively positive headlines that have boosted sentiment. In particular, a report by the Financial Times on Tuesday afternoon that the eurozone may be planning on doubling the firepower of its rescue facility was taken a good sign.
"This is the one chance [European leaders] have to save the single currency," Peter Dixon, global equities economist at Commerzbank, said in an interview with FOX Business.
Still, people who closely watch the situation in Europe warn that such summits have disappointed investors and roiled markets in the past. Indeed, a German official said the country doesn't expect all 27 European Union nations to agree to treaty changes that would force closer fiscal ties, according to multiple media reports. However, in a separate release, the governments of Germany and France, Europe's biggest economic players, noted that if the entire EU doesn't agree to the changes, they will push the 17-member euro area to support the pact.
"Our expectations remain low" that a solution will be drafted that prompts the European Central Bank to embark on a balance sheet expansion that provides "a clear path towards resolving the debt crisis," analysts at Nomura wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday.
To that end, traders are also expected to pay close attention to an ECB meeting on Thursday to see what, if any, measures the central bank plans on taking to ease the crisis. Last week, the ECB, the Federal Reserve and several other global central banks unveiled a united plan to ease conditions in the money markets. The move sparked a massive rally, but many economists caution it may fight the symptoms, and not the actual sickness.
European blue chips rose 0.33%, while the euro fell 0.09% to $1.3386. The U.S. dollar climbed 0.16% against a basket of six world currencies.
Energy markets were under pressure from a stronger dollar ahead of the release of fresh data inventory data from the Energy Department. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York fell 7 cents, or 0.07%, to $101.22 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline slipped 2 cents, or 0.68%, to $2.63 a gallon.
In metals, gold fell $1.20, or 0.07%, to $1,731 a troy ounce. U.S. government bonds were largely unchanged. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields 2.091% from 2.093%.
On the economic front, a report from the Federal Reserve on consumer borrowing across the U.S. is on tap for 3:00 p.m. ET.
AT&T (NYSE:T) said it expects record smartphone sales for the fourth quarter, already selling 4 million in the first two months of the period. The telecom also said it is still pursuing its acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom.
European blue chips rose 0.33%, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.34% to 5,570, and the German DAX gained 0.33% to 6,049.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.7% to 8,722 and the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 19,241.