Global stocks were set for a weak start on Wednesday morning, although an upbeat report on U.S. employment gains last month sent encouraging signals.
U.S. stock index futures were down with about an hour before markets open, suggesting that stocks will slip at the start of trading. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 59 points or 0.5 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were down 0.4 per cent.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 1.4 per cent in afternoon trading. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 per cent in overnight trading.
Stocks could be lifted by strong U.S. employment gains. According to Automatic Data Processing, private-sector employers added 297,000 jobs last month, well ahead of expectations among economists for gains of 100,000 jobs and another signal that the stagnant employment situation might be improving.
Of course, the report serves as little more than a warm-up act to the much-anticipated non-farm payrolls report from the Labor Department, due on Friday. Right now, economists expect that report to show overall gains of 140,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, investors on Wednesday will also be anticipating the ISM non-manufacturing index, at 10 a.m. (ET). Economists are expecting modest gains.