U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced an extension of the bank's asset swap program known as "Operation Twist", but stopped short of announcing another round of quantitative easing.
The Fed also revised down its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year.
Bernanke warned the euro zone economic crisis was having far-reaching implications for the global economy and said it presented the greatest threat to the recovery of the U.S. economy. He said the Fed stands ready to act if the economy slows further.
Overnight in Asia,the HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, which tracks activity in the private sector, showed China's factory ouput contracted for an eighth straight month in June. Export orders and prices turned in their weakest showing since early 2009.
European equities (FTSE International: .FTEU3) fell around 0.5 percent in early trade on Thursday and stocks also sold off in Asia, dented by the weak Chinese data and disappointment over the extent of stimulus announced by the Fed.
The euro zone crisis remained in the spotlight, with Spain's medium-term borrowing costs hitting a new euro era high at a debt auction on Thursday, a few hours before Madrid sheds light on the state of its weaker banks and possibly makes a formal request for European Union funds to rescue them.
Spain sold 2.2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in medium-term bonds with yields on the 5-year paper rising to 15-year highs..
Economic reports due out in the United States on Thursday include existing home sales for May at 10:00 a.m. New York time.
Ahead of those figures is the weekly initial jobless claims report for the week ending June 16 due out at 8:30 a.m. Analysts polled by the website Briefing.com expected a slight drop in the claims data to 380,000 from 386,000 in the prior week.
The Philadelphia Fed index of factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region for June is released at 10:00 a m.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is close to reaching a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over allegations it promoted anti psychotic drug Risperdal for unapproved uses that could cost the healthcare conglomerate at least $1.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile, a U.S. judge questioned Apple's (AAPL) bid for an injunction against Google's (GOOG) Motorola (MSI)Mobility unit on Wednesday as the iPhone maker tries to salvage its position in a number of patent disputes with rivals.
And Wells Fargo (WFC) is looking to move some jobs outside the United States as it pushes forward with a company-wide cost-cutting program.
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