* Tesla soars in premarket after results, Wal-Mart falls
* Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 bln, shares fall
* Data from China weak, Ukraine turmoil continues
* Futures down: Dow 38 pts, S&P 3 pts, Nasdaq 14 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 20 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Thursday, pressured by weak results from Wal-Mart as well as
global geopolitical and economic uncertainty that gave investors
few reasons to buy despite a sharp selloff in the previous
* Some of Wall Street's biggest trading favorites will be in
focus on Thursday, with Facebook Inc announcing a massive
acquisition and Tesla Motors giving a strong earnings
* Turmoil in emerging markets continued, with Ukraine
experiencing some of its worst violence since the end of the
Cold War. The country's hryvnia currency dropped to near
five-year lows, while the country's state debt insurance costs
rose to their highest since December 2009.
* Emerging market growth was also in view after China's
flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index fell to a
seven-month low in February, falling under the level that
* Social networking giant Facebook said late Wednesday it
would buy mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $16 billion in
cash and stock, plus an additional $3 billion worth of
restricted stock units to WhatsApp's founders. Shares fell 4.2
percent to $65.20 in heavy premarket trading.
* Tesla surged 10.2 percent to $213.35 a day after it
reported fourth-quarter results that topped expectations and
said deliveries of its luxury Model S electric sedan would surge
more than 55 percent this year. If the premarket move holds, it
would take the stock to an all-time high and build on its
year-to-date advance of almost 29 percent.
* Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 1.5 percent to $73.73 in
premarket trading. The discount retailer reported a drop in U.S.
same-store sales and gave an earnings outlook below
* S&P 500 futures fell 3 points and were below 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 slid 38
points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 14 points.
* Stocks fell Wednesday after minutes from the January
meeting of the Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee showed
several policymakers wanted to hone in on the idea that their
asset-purchase program would be trimmed in predictable,
$10-billion steps unless there is a big economic surprise this
* While the statement didn't deviate much from previous Fed
communications, market participants had expected the central
bank to point to recent weakness in economic data and to
reinforce its commitment to stimulating the economy.
* In the latest economic data, jobless claims fell less than
expected in the latest week, while consumer prices rose 0.1
percent in January, as expected. Futures were little impacted by
* Recent reads on the economy, including housing starts on
Wednesday, have come in below expectations, with many citing
poor weather for the weakness and some economists, including
Goldman Sachs and Barclays, cutting their estimates for
* European shares fell 0.6 percent after France's
service sector shrank by its most in nine months in February.