NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock market futures returned to slightly negative territory on Wednesday after turning briefly higher on a report showing the private sector shed 22,000 jobs last month.
Futures turned only temporarily higher after the ADP employment report released early Wednesday had firms in the private sector shedding jobs for a 24th month in a row. The ADP national data precedes Friday's more closely followed nonfarm payroll data from the government. Read details of December revision lower.
"The less-bad theme continues as it's the smallest decline since jobs were added back in January '08," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 11 points at 10,213. Those for the S&P 500 dipped 2.7 points to 1,094.5, while Nasdaq 100 futures declined 3.25 points to 1,765.75.
After a brief stumble, stocks marched higher Tuesday thanks to strong housing data, putting the market on its best two-day winning streak in nearly three months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 111.32 points higher, or 1.1%, at 10,296.85. The Nasdaq rose 0.9%, while the S&P 500 rose 1.3%, helped by gains in every sector.
Later, the ISM service sector index for January will be released at 10 a.m. Eastern.
The media sector was in focus as Comcast /quotes/comstock/15*!cmcsa (CMCS.A 16.29, +0.35, +2.20%) doubled its profit and News Corp /quotes/comstock/15*!nws/quotes/nls/nws (NWS 15.04, +0.33, +2.24%) and Time Warner /quotes/comstock/13*!twx/quotes/nls/twx (TWX 28.51, +0.46, +1.64%) returned to profitability. Comcast shares edged fractionally higher in premarket trade, Time Warner edged up marginally and News Corp., which owns the publisher of this report, advanced 4.9%.
Pfizer /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 19.24, +0.45, +2.39%) slipped 1.6%. The drug giant said its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled to $767 million, but the result lagged Wall Street estimates. It also scaled back 2012 revenue estimates.
European shares edged higher, as the E.U. supported Greece's budget cut plan, with miners and banks offsetting earnings-related weakness from Roche Holding and Electrolux. See Europe Markets.
In the currency markets, the euro stood nearly flat against the dollar at $1.3962. The European Commission said it "fully supports" Greece's efforts to slash its budget deficit over the next three years but will monitor the government closely to ensure reforms are put in place. See E.U. backs Greek budget efforts
Asia stocks rose as resource and tech stocks climbed on buoyant commodity prices and a strong close on Wall Street. See Asia Markets
Crude oil futures were up 15 cents to $77.04 a barrel, while gold was off $3.9 to $1,114.1 an ounce.
Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.