Stocks: Investors await European summit

Stocks: Investors await European summit
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POSTED: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 9:30am

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 9:44am

U.S. stocks were set to open little changed Wednesday, as investors around the globe awaited a key European summit.

Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were little changed. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

European leaders are under pressure to announce plans to backstop the debts of struggling nations, while also laying the groundwork for future growth, during their key meeting on Thursday and Friday.

But with so many similar summits having come and gone, investors are skeptical that anything concrete will emerge.

Spain has been particularly troublesome recently, with its sky-high borrowing costs and struggling banking sector.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Spain's parliament Wednesday that the country could not continue to finance at current prices for much longer.

Spain's central bank also issued a cautious note about the country's economy. "The most recent information for the [latest period] indicates that activity continued declining at a more intense pace," the Bank of Spain said in its monthly report.

On the domestic front, investors received a positive economic report on durable goods orders. A report on the housing market is due later this morning.

U.S. stocks held onto modest gains Tuesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of the EU summit.

World markets: European stocks were lower in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 slid 0.6%, the DAX in Germany fell 1.7%, and France's CAC 40 dropped 2%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite slid 0.2%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong moved up 1% and Japan's Nikkei rose 0.8%.

Economy: Durable goods orders for May surpassed expectations. The U.S. Census Bureau reported new orders for manufactured durable goods in May increased 1.1% to $217.2 billion. Analysts had expected half that.

May's pending home sales, reported by the National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m. ET, are expected to have risen.

Companies: Pesticide-maker Monsanto reported quarterly earnings of $1.63 a share on $4.2 billion in revenue, slightly better than expected. Shares were up slightly in premarket trading.

Food producer General Mills posted quarterly and annual earnings, missing forecasts on both. CEO Ken Powell said rising commodity costs -- the highest in more than 30 years -- ate away at profits.

Investors will also be keeping tabs on Facebook, since Wednesday marks the end of the so-called quiet period, allowing analysts to publish research on the social media company's estimated value.

Shares of News Corp edged higher in premarket trading, after surging more than 8% Tuesday. News Corp. said it may split into two entities -- one comprising the 20th Century Fox film studio, the Fox broadcast network and the Fox News Channel, and the other housing its newspaper and book publishing businesses.

Shares of Best Buy fell slightly in premarket trading, continuing the more than 1% slide in after-hours trading.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar remained flat against the euro, but rose against the British pound and Japanese yen.

Oil for August delivery fell 6 cents to $79.30 a barrel.

Gold futures for August delivery fell $5.50 to $1,569.40 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury remained at late Tuesday levels, keeping the yield at 1.63%.

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