(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a lower opening on the Wall Street, as political leaders continue talks over reaching an agreement to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures slid 64 points to 12,939. The Nasdaq futures dipped 13.75 points to 2,608.75. Standard and Poor's 500 futures fell 7.90 points to 1,402.80.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks cut sharp losses to end on a slightly lower note amid hopes that an agreement will be reached to address the "fiscal cliff". Stocks retreated sharply earlier in the day after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that a budget deal before Jan. 1 appears unlikely. Reid said it looks like the country is headed over the fiscal cliff.
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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.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted on Thursday that the House will return for legislative business on Sunday, December 30. He added the House may be in session through Jan. 2
On the data front, a report may show pending home sales for November rose 1.0 percent following a 5.2 percent increase in October. The Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is expected to show a reading of 51.0 in December from 50.4 last month.
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In corporate news, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) retreated 1.57 percent. Facebook-owned Instagram may have lost roughly 25 percent its users after a recent policy change, New York Post reported, quoting AppData.
United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) dropped 1.47 percent in premarket. The company estimates its consolidated system available seat miles (ASMs) to fall 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter due to superstorm Sandy.
Synchronoss Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SNCR), a provider of on-demand transaction management solutions, has acquired NewBay from the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) for $55.5 million in cash.
Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. (NYSE: MHR) gained 2.38 percent in premarket after reporting production results from two new Eagle Ford Shale wells.
magicJack VocalTec Ltd. (NASDAQ: CALL) jumped 9.03 percent in premarket after the provider of voice-over-Internet-Protocol products raised its outlook for the fourth quarter and full year. The company also named Gerald Vento as President and CEO effective Jan. 1.
European markets traded in red, with Germany's DAX down 0.57 percent to trade at 7,612.39. France's CAC40 declined 0.93 percent to trade at 3,638.14. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 shed 0.64 percent to trade at 5,916.
Asian markets ended in green, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 1.24 percent to finish at 2,233.25. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.70 percent to close at 10,395.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced 0.21 percent to end at 22,666.59. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,444.84, up 0.63 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures gained 0.17 percent to $91.02 per barrel. Gold futures fell 0.32 percent to $1,658.40 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro shed 0.23 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3206, while the British pound added 0.24 percent to 1.6139. The dollar slid 0.10 percent against the Japanese yen to 86.0100.