Premarket futures were forecasting a lower open for stocks in New York Wednesday, as traders assessed the government's new plan to support the financial system and anticipated a heap of corporate earnings and economic-data releases.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 17 points at 986 and were 16 points below fair value. Nasdaq futures were down 6 at 1360 and were 14 short of fair value.

On Tuesday, stocks finished with modest losses, as traders digested the Treasury Department's plan to take a $250 billion equity stake in U.S. banks. The government investment is part of the larger $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to provide assistance to struggling financial firms.

Ahead of Wednesday's trading, the Federal Reserve said that Pimco, a unit of Allianz ( AZ), would be the custodian of the government's Commercial Paper Funding Facility, which will buy three-month commercial paper to support money markets.

As earnings season hit full stride, chipmaker Intel ( INTC) announced a 12% increase in third-quarter profit, but said its future performance was unclear.

Financial firms JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Wells Fargo ( WFC), BlackRock ( BLK) and Charles Schwab ( SCHW) are expected to report later this morning.

State Street ( STT) reported an increase in third-quarter earnings.

Also due before Wednesday's trading session begins are statements from pharmaceutical concern Abbott Labs ( ABT), beverage firm Coca-Cola ( KO) and Delta Airlines ( DAL).

Looking at the day's economic data, the Census Bureau is set to release retail sales figures for September and business inventories for August. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also slated to roll out its producer price index.

Traders also will get a look at the October New York Empire State Index, the Energy Information Administration's survey of crude-oil inventories for the week ended Oct. 11, and the Fed's so-called beige book of anecdotal economic data.

In commodities, crude oil was losing 81 cents to $77.82 a barrel, and gold was rising $9.20 to $848.70.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was up 22/32 to yield 3.99%, and the 30-year was gaining 24/32, yielding 4.23%. The dollar was rising vs. the euro but weakening against the yen and pound.

Overseas, European markets such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were losing ground. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed slightly higher, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished with losses.

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