NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock index futures were struggling for direction on Wednesday as the market tried to ascertain whether it should buy into the prior session's weakness or whether there was more to come.
Watch the video below to see how European markets are doing in midday trading Wednesday:
Dow Jones Industrial Average
The factors driving the weakness were global uncertainties, marked by the approaching Sept. 18 Scottish independence referendum and the possibility of a global shift in interest rates.
"I think people are getting worried about Scotland saying 'yes, we want our independence' and the uncertainty that will surround that. You can almost say that it's the referendum that may have killed the bull," said Sam Stovall, U.S. equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.
Also, the Bank of England has hinted that it could raise rates sooner than expected amid concerns that the market has been underestimating the odds that a Fed rate hike could come sooner than later.
"Investors are beginning to worry that it's a global shift and that rates, except for Europe as a whole, might be seeing the start of their long, slow uphill climb. That's like a dark cloud hanging over investors mindsets right," Stovall remarked.
U.S. stock markets finished in the red Tuesday, extending their retreat from recent highs, as investors feared they've been underestimating the odds of an earlier Federal Reserve rate hike and after Apple (AAPL) returned to trading below $100 after its new product launches. Apple shares traded sideways at $98 in premarket trading.
In deals news on Wednesday, Dollar General (DG) went hostile in its bid to buy rival Family Dollar Stores (FDO) . Dollar General took its offer directly to Family Dollar shareholders, launching a tender to buy Family Dollar at $80 a share. Family Dollar rose 0.95% to $79.45.
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Microsoft (MSFT) is in serious discussions to buy Mojang, the Swedish company behind the popular "Minecraft" videogame, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. Microsoft rose 0.68% to $47.08.
Alibaba has received enough orders for its initial public offering to cover the entire deal within just two days of its launch, people familiar with the IPO process told Reuters on Wednesday. Yahoo!, which is parting with some of its 22% stake in the IPO, popped 0.78% to $41.10.
Target's (TGT) new CEO Brian Cornell plans to double down on just a handful of departments like baby products and fashion, as the discounter works to bring shoppers back to its stores and better compete with online rivals, the Journal reported.
Wholesale inventory numbers for July will be released at 10 a.m. EDT.
--By Andrea Tse in New York