* AutoZone up early, results show profit growth
* Carnival slides, hurt by downgrades, forecast of loss
* Futures: Dow up 3 pts, S&P down 2.5 pts, Nasdaq down 2 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Sept 25 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Wednesday, following four days of losses on
the S&P 500 and Dow, as investors grew increasingly concerned
about budget and debt negotiations in Washington.
Concerns over a potential U.S. government shutdown, and
mixed signals on the immediate future of the monetary policy
that has given support to equities, kept investors on edge. The
possibility of a last-minute deal in Congress, however, eased
the selling pressure brought by the uncertainty.
"Investors are not willing to sell the market only to see
some kind of agreement reached that would give it support, nor
jump in knowing it could get a lot uglier before it is
resolved," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm
LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He said there was confidence an agreement would eventually
be reached, but "it seems we can't get out of the way of the
political games that surround funding and operating the
S&P 500 futures fell 2.5 points and were slightly
lower in terms of 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
rose 3 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 2
The Commerce Department releases August durable goods orders
at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey
expect an unchanged reading for August orders after a 7.4
percent drop in July. New home sales data for August is due at
10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT).
AutoZone shares dipped 0.5 percent in light
premarket trading after the largest U.S. auto parts retailer
reported a 15 percent rise in quarterly profit, mainly due to
Carnival Corp shares fell 4.3 percent in premarket
trading after several brokerage downgrades in the wake of the
company's warning it could report an adjusted loss for the
In budget negotiations in Washington, most Republicans
shunned Senator Ted Cruz's diatribe overnight against President
Barack Obama's health insurance reform law, which is delaying
Senate consideration of a stop-gap funding measure needed to
avoid a government shutdown in six days. Last week, the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a version
of the spending measure that denied funds to "Obamacare," but
that will be stripped from the Senate version.
The House will have to decide whether to pass the revised
bill or find a compromise with the Senate. Unless new funding is
quickly approved, a government shutdown would begin on Tuesday.