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Stock futures point to lower Wall Street open

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Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street Wednesday as investors refrain from any major moves ahead of a stream of economic data.

Traders will receive a handful of economic data from December in the morning, including the ADP National Employment Report on private companies and the Institute for Supply Management’s index of service industry activity. The Federal Reserve will also release the minutes from its December meeting later in the day.

Dow futures fell 17, or 0.2 percent, to 10,498. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,129.70, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 2.50, or 0.1 percent, at 1,882.75.

Asian stocks were up, while European markets edged lower.

Many analysts said investors were holding back while they wait for Friday’s Labor Department report on employment.

The ADP report is often used as a forecasst for the government’s report, which economists expect to say that the nation’s unemployment ticked up to 10.1 percent in December from 10 percent in November.

The private sector report is expected to show a loss of 73,000 jobs in December, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. That’s far better than the 169,000 jobs lost in November.

The report is due out at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Institute for Supply Management will issue its non-manufacturing index for December. Economists forecast that the index hit 50.5 in December, up from 48.7 in November. A reading of 50 marks the dividing line between growth and contraction in the service sector, which includes more than 80 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The monthly services sector survey is expected at 10 a.m. EST.

The Federal Reserve will also release the minutes from its December meeting at 2 p.m. EST.

Stock trading was quiet Tuesday after a strong start the first day of trading in the new year.

New data from November did little to move the markets. The Commerce Department reported that factory orders rose by more than twice what had been expected. The National Association of Realtors said the number of buyers who agreed to purchase previously occupied homes fell 16 percent.

Meanwhile Wednesday, bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.79 percent from 3.76 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.7 percent from 0.05 percent.

The dollar mostly rose against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.5 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was down less than 0.1 percent.