* Investors wary before White House talks to solve fiscal
* S&P 500 heading for second straight week of steep losses
* Dell shares fall before open as profit slides 47 percent
* Futures: Dow off 29 pts, S&P up 1 pt, Nasdaq off 1.25 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Nov 16 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Friday as investors remained skeptical that a
meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders
would make progress on dealing with the "fiscal cliff."
Democrats and Republicans appeared to dig in their heels
into opposing positions before the gathering, scheduled to begin
at 10:15 a.m (15:15 GMT) at the White House.
Concerns over the cliff -- large, automatic budget cuts and
tax hikes that begin to take effect in the new year -- have
pressured stocks ever since the Nov. 6 presidential election.
The S&P is on track to notch a second straight week of losses of
more than 1 percent.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans
won't tax rates, echoing last year's political impasse over
raising the U.S. debt ceiling.
Obama "will not sign, under any circumstances, an extension
of tax cuts for the top 2 percent of American earners," Obama
spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
Investors worry that if no deal is reached, the economy
could slide into recession. These concerns have overshadowed
other issues in the economy, resulting in a market where gains
have been difficult to sustain, contributing to the S&P's 4.3
percent decline over the past two weeks.
"I have to believe the government will come to some kind of
resolution, but every day that passes without any progress is
another day where the path of least resistance will be down,"
said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners
LLC in New York.
Dell Inc will be in focus a day after reporting a
steep drop in its quarterly profit. Shares fell 2.2 percent to
$9.35 in premarket trading.
S&P 500 futures edged up 1 point and were slightly
above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking
into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on
the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost
29 points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 1.25 points.
The S&P is currently down 1.9 percent for the week, while
the Dow is off 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq is down 2.3 percent.
The S&P 500 sunk to a 3 1/2-month closing low on Thursday and
remained well below its 200-day moving average, which it
pierced last week.
While the S&P remains up 7.6 percent for the year, what had
looked like a stellar 2012 for stocks has turned into merely an
average year. Though some investors have become more inclined to
protect their gains as 2012 draws to a close, others view the
decline as a buying opportunity.
"I think we're closer to the end of this decline than to the
beginning, and valuations are becoming extremely attractive,"
Pavlik said. "If you're not putting a buying list together,
you're doing yourself a disservice."
Sears Holdings Corp late Thursday reported a
quarterly loss that was narrower than expected, but same-store
sales that fell on weak demand for electronics. Gap Inc
raised its full-year profit view, quelling concerns of a
slowdown going into the holiday season.
J.M. Smucker Co reported a rise in second-quarter
earnings, helped by a drop in commodity costs.
The European debt crisis also remains in focus as the euro
zone relapsed into its second recession since 2009 in the third
quarter. European shares fell 0.4 percent, pressured by weakness
A flare-up in violence in the Middle East added to market
unease as Israeli warplanes bombed targets in and around Gaza
city for a second day, while two rockets fired from the Gaza
Strip targeted Tel Aviv.
U.S. stocks ended flat on Thursday with investors wary of
making bets in the face of a drawn-out battle over impending tax
and spending changes, while retailer Wal-Mart tumbled after