European and Asian stocks fell, with officials and investors alike voicing doubts that this weekend's European summit will come up with a quick fix for the region's problems.
Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.7 per cent and Germany's DAX sliding 0.6 per cent. Japan's Nikkei lost 1 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 1.8 per cent.
U.S. stock futures, though, pointed higher. Dow futures gained 34 points, or 0.3 per cent, while S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 points, or 0.3 per cent. Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Inc. are among companies reporting results on Thursday.
European stocks trimmed losses around midday after a document was released showing that the European rescue fund will be able to buy bonds on the secondary market.
Optimism had been growing that the weekend meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels would come up with a substantial plan for dealing with the sovereign debt crisis. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that plans to tackle the crisis had stalled, with Paris and Berlin at odds over how to increase the bailout fund. That was similar to what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a day earlier and what several European officials have been saying for days.
Yields on German bonds fell 7 basis points.
The euro fell to $1.3673 (U.S.) before recovering to trade around $1.3788.
The Canadian dollar traded at 98.24 U.S. cents.
December gold futures fell 1 per cent to $1,631.30, their fourth consecutive daily decline.
Copper slid almost 4 per cent to its lowest in two weeks. It fell to $6,925 a tonne, then recovered to $7,008.25.