* AutoZone edges up, results show profit growth
* Carnival slides, hurt by downgrades, forecast of loss
* Futures: Dow up 16 pts, S&P up 0.3 pt, Nasdaq up 4 pts
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Sept 25 U.S. stocks were set to edge
up at the open on Wednesday, following four days of losses on
the S&P 500 and Dow, even as a lack of progress in budget
negotiations in Washington left investors puzzled.
Concerns over a potential U.S. government shutdown added to
recent mixed signals on the immediate future of the monetary
policy that has given support to equities, keeping traders on
edge. Still, the possibility of a last-minute deal in Congress
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
Most Republicans shunned Texan Senator Ted Cruz's marathon
diatribe against President Barack Obama's health insurance
reform law, which was delaying Senate consideration of a
stop-gap funding measure needed to avoid a government shutdown
in six days.
S&P 500 futures were flat and slightly higher 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
16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4 points.
Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods edged higher
in August and gave a signal that the factory sector gained a
step, midway through the third quarter. New home sales data for
August is due at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT).
AutoZone shares edged up 0.7 percent in light
premarket trading after the largest U.S. auto parts retailer
reported a 15 percent rise in quarterly profit, mainly due to
Medical device maker Stryker Corp will buy smaller
peer Mako Surgical for about $1.65 billion to gain
access to Mako's technology for robot-assisted orthopedic
surgery. Mako shares surged 83 percent in premarket trading.
Carnival Corp shares fell 4.6 percent in premarket
trading after several brokerage downgrades in the wake of the
company's warning it could report an adjusted loss for the