Updated from 7:02 a.m. EDT

Stocks fell early Wednesday amid rough European sessions, as renewed pressure in commodities markets and the latest bird flu scare spawned another flight from risk.

Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading 4.5 points below fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for an 8-point decline. The 10-year Treasury bond lost 1/32 in price to yield 5.03%, while the dollar fell against the euro and was unchanged against the yen.

S&P futures firmed modestly after Merrill Lynch upgraded General Motors ( GM - Get Report) to buy from neutral. It cited a higher-than-expected acceptance rate among workers for the company's employee buyout program.

Metals and energy prices fell, with gold losing $11.70 to $662 an ounce, copper dropping 15 cents to $3.74 a pound, and front-month crude losing $1.05 to $70.71 a barrel. A rebound in commodity prices helped support U.S. stocks Tuesday morning, although the major averages ended lower for the session.

Since peaking prior to the Federal Reserve's last rate announcement on May 10, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen more than 600 points, or 5.5%, while the S&P 500 has shed nearly 70 points, or 5.5%. The Nasdaq Composite is down 185 points, or 8.6%, from its recent peak on May 5.

Overseas shares were mostly lower Wednesday, with London's FTSE 100 recently losing 1.4% to 5598 and Germany's Xetra DAX falling 1.7% to 5584. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei bounced from recent weakness, surging 2% to 15,907, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3% to 15,822.

One downside catalyst for stocks Wednesday is a report from the World Health Organization suggesting an outbreak of bird flu in Indonesia among seven family members could be the first recorded instance of human-to-human communication of the disease. All seven have died from the disease.

Wednesday's economic docket is relatively heavy, with the government expected to say that durable goods orders fell by 0.5% last month following a 6.4% jump in March. April new home sales are expected to come in at an annualized pace of 1.15 million, down from 1.21 million a month before.

To view Ana Dane's video take on today's premarket action, click here .

On Thursday, the Commerce Department will release its first revision to the first-quarter gross domestic product report, and is expected to add a full percentage point to the growth rate. The report's inflation gauge, the implicit price deflator to the personal consumption expenditure index, is expected to hold steady at 3.3%.

Among companies, Merrill Lynch defended aluminum stocks Wednesday, saying concerns about cheap supply emanating from China are overdone. The brokerage reiterated buy ratings on Alcoa ( AA - Get Report) and Alcan ( AL - Get Report), both of which are down 18% since the last Fed meeting.

Two closely watched initial stock offerings priced Tuesday night. In the U.S., Internet telephone provider Vonage ( VG - Get Report) sold 31.3 million shares at $17 apiece, in the middle of its expected range. The deal raised $531 million.

In Hong Kong, the Bank of China went public in the biggest IPO this decade, selling 25.6 billion shares at roughly 38 cents each to $9.7 billion. The deal, which is China's biggest initial offering ever, got sold despite the recent volatility in Asian markets and follows a $9.2 billion offering by China Construction Bank last October.

Medtronic ( MDT - Get Report) said fourth-quarter earnings more than tripled to $747 million, or 62 cents a share, matching estimates. The company saw strong sales of its implantable cardiac defibrillators in the most recent quarter.

McClatchy ( MNI - Get Report) announced a deal Tuesday to sell its Philadelphia newspapers to an investment group led by a local advertising executive. The price for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News is $515 million in cash.

Sara Lee set a timetable for the spinoff of its branded apparel units, an initiative it outlined last year. The company sees the transactions for Hanesbrands Inc. occurring between June and September.