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U.S. futures point to lower open amid dearth of incentives

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wednesday, as investors struggled to find reasons to keep buying with indexes still hovering near record levels.

* Wall Street has struggled for direction lately, with daily moves in either direction being modest. The S&P on Tuesday moved within less than a 7-point range, typical of a recent tight trading pattern.

* Sounding a cautious note, the World Bank late Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecast to 2.8 percent from 3.2 percent due to the impact of the Ukraine crisis and a harsh U.S. winter. However, with those issues largely in the rear-view mirror, the World Bank was confident economic activity was shifting to a stronger footing.

* While the upward trend in equities is still considered intact, a lack of major trading events could limit gains after the market's recent rally. The Dow ended at a fourth straight record Tuesday, while the S&P 500 closed lower after four days of record finishes.

* Investors were keeping an eye on low levels of both trading volume and volatility. The lighter-than-average volume could make the market vulnerable to sharp fluctuations, while some view the low levels of the CBOE Volatility index - the so-called 'fear gauge' - as a sign the market is not fully taking into account issues that could derail the rally.

* In a sign of the market's low volatility, the 14-day Average True Range on the S&P 500 hit 10.09, the lowest since February 2013.

* S&P 500 futures fell 8 points and were above 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 lost 70 points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 15.5 points.

* In company news, Micron Technology was one of the Nasdaq's most active premarket movers, rising 3.9 percent to $30.66 a day after Credit Suisse raised its price target on the stock to $50 from $30.

* Sources told Reuters that Amazon.com Inc later this year plans to launch a marketplace for local services, from babysitting to party clowns, beginning with a single market. Shares rose 1.1 percent to $336 in premarket trading.

* Orexigen Therapeutics Inc plummeted 17 percent to $5.68 in heavy premarket trading after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delayed a decision on the marketing application for its obesity drug by three months.

* Bloomberg reported that IBM Corp was nearing a deal to sell its chip-making business to contract chipmaker Globalfoundries Inc for an undisclosed amount. Shares of the Dow component dipped 0.4 percent to $183.54.

* Bank of America Corp has reached an impasse in negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice relating to the bank's mortgage investments, according to the New York Times. Shares of BofA fell 1.2 percent to $15.73 in premarket trading.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)