Stock Futures Weak as Markets Stand Still for ECB's Next Move

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were signaling another uneventful start to the regular trading session on Wall Street on Wednesday. Investors were mostly sitting on the sidelines, awaiting the government nonfarm payrolls report on Friday and bracing for the European Central Bank's next policy move.

The ECB on Thursday is widely expected to cut benchmark interest rates into the negative for the first time. Wednesday's weak, first-quarter euro-area economic growth data is expected to increase pressure on central bankers to step in and do something to combat a protracted period of low inflation that's threatening to derail the region's fragile recovery.

For Friday, economists are expecting a decline in the U.S. government jobs report to 218,000 jobs created in May from 288,000 added in April.

The ADP Employment Change Index on Wednesday showed that the U.S. private sector added 179,000 jobs in May, which was below the forecast of 210,000 jobs and the April figure of 220,000.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.25 points, or 2.59 points below fair value, to 1,919.75. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 8 points, or 6.34 points below fair value, to 16,705. Nasdaq futures were down 4.8 points, or 3.27 points below fair value, to 3,726.

The DAX in Germany was off 0.07% and the FTSE in London was down 0.19%. Asian markets finished mixed as the Nikkei climbed 0.22% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.6%.

Economic reports for the rest of Wednesday consist of the trade balance for April at 8:30 a.m. EDT, productivity for the first quarter at 8:30 a.m., the ISM Services Index for May at 10 a.m., and the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" at 2 p.m.

Several stocks were poised for action. Tesla's (TSLA) Elon Musk said Tuesday at the electric carmaker's annual shareholder meeting that he would remain as CEO for at least another four to five years. Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance reached an agreement to acquire Protective Life (PL) for $5.7 billion. NRG Energy (NRG) is nearing a deal to acquire the largest wind farm in North America, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

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