(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a mixed opening on the Wall Street amid a set of economic reports and uncertainty whether an agreement will be reached in Washington to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures dipped 13 points to 13,205. The Nasdaq futures gained 2 points to 2,695. Standard and Poor's 500 futures fell 1.00 point to 1,432.10.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended in red after talks to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" appear to hit an impasse and a soft housing data also dented sentiment. President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner are negotiating to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to begin in January.
Calling Boehner's "Plan B" proposal not balanced, the White House said on Wednesday the President would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.
On the data front, a report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed real gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the third quarter, better than expectations for a growth of 2.8 percent. GDP measures the annualized change in the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced by the economy.
The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, a government data showed. Jobless claims increased 17,000 to 361,000 for the week ended Dec. 15 from a revised 344,000, while economists projected 357,000 applications.
At 10 am ET, the National Association of Realtors may report that existing home sales for November rose to 4.87 million from 4.79 million. At the same time, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index may show a reading of -3.0 for December, an improvement from -10.7 in November.
The Conference Board's U.S. leading economic indicators index may show a 0.2 percent decline for November.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: NYX, DRI, ACN, CAG, BBBY, JBL, RAD, KBH, KMX, ELOQ
In corporate news, IntercontinentalExchange (NYSE: ICE) agreed to acquire NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) for $33.12 per share, or a total of about $8.2 billion in a stock-and-cash transaction. NYX shares spiked 37.71 percent in premarket.
Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) may be in focus after the restaurant operator posted a 38 percent drop in quarterly earnings amid a 2.7 percent decline in same-restaurant sales at its three casual dining brands and higher expenses.
Accenture Plc (NYSE: ACN) retreated 5.26 percent in premarket after the consulting and technology services company issued second-quarter earnings outlook that trailed market expectations.
ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) gained 3.14 percent after the company reported stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings helped by sales growth at its consumer and commercial food segments, and CAG revised its earnings forecast for fiscal 2013 to the top-end of previous guidance.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) lost 5.03 percent in premarket after the retailer of home products posted third-quarter revenue that trailed market expectations and issued a downbeat forecast.
CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) gained 4.08 percent in premarket after the retailer of used cars reported a 15 percent growth in quarterly earnings and sales, topping market expectations.
Eloqua Inc. (NASDAQ: ELOQ) spiked 31.14 percent in premarket after the provider of revenue performance management software agreed to be acquired by Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) for $23.50 a share. The deal represents a 31.1 percent premium to Eloqua's previous closing price.
Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) jumped 13.46 percent in premarket after the Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based drugstore chain lifted its forecast for 2013 following a surprise profit for the third quarter boosted by continued front end sales and prescription count growth/
Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) jumped 5.28 percent in premarket after electronic manufacturing services company reported better-than-expected first-quarter results and issued an upbeat earnings guidance.
KB Home (NYSE: KBH) fell 4.08 percent after the company reported a lower profit for the fourth quarter, though the homebuilder's revenue grew in double digits, spurred by a rise in the number of homes delivered and a higher average selling price.
European markets traded mixed, with Germany's DAX down 0.03 percent to trade at 7,667.17. France's CAC40 gained 0.08 percent to trade at 3,667.46. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.05 percent to trade at 5,964.24.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index added 0.28 percent to finish at 2,168.35. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.19 percent to close at 10,039.33. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.16 percent to end at 22,659.78. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,453, down 0.11 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures advanced 0.08 percent to $90.05 per barrel. Gold futures inched up 0.11 percent to $1,669.40 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro gained 0.14 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3246, and the British pound advanced 0.09 percent to 1.6262. The dollar shed 0.27 percent against the Japanese yen to 84.1800.