By Steve Goldstein , MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures were weaker Wednesday with President Barack Obama's nationally televised address on cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and results from bellwether FedEx in the spotlight.
S&P 500 futures fell 4.5 points to 1,104.70 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 7 points to 1,886.20. Dow industrials futures fell 31 points.
U.S. stocks ended Tuesday with strong gains, with improving New York-area manufacturing data and stabilizing sentiment toward Europe helping the S&P 500 break through its 200-day moving average. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 213 points.
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"We'll take the gains, but as is our custom of late, leave the party hats in the box and recall that it looks like a workout period with significant systemic and structural challenges still in place -- where two steps forward is often followed by one step back," said John Stoltzfus, a strategist for Ticonderoga Securities.
Wednesday's calendar features data on producer prices, housing starts and industrial production. A financial report from delivery group FedEx /quotes/comstock/13*!fdx/quotes/nls/fdx (FDX 83.01, +1.66, +2.04%) , which may say its quarterly earnings more than doubled, also will be scrutinized for signs about the strength of the economy.
As International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn heads to Spain, a newspaper report said the E.U., IMF and the U.S. Treasury are talking about a 250 billion euro credit line for the euro-zone country beset by unemployment over 20%. Spain and the IMF denied the report.
The Stoxx Europe 600 wavered between gains and losses in Europe, with Spanish funding woes and France's decision to hike its retirement age in the spotlight. The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.2289, -0.0032, -0.2597%) was trading slightly below $1.23.
The energy sector also will be in the spotlight as President Barack Obama gave a nationally televised address blasting BP /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 31.40, +0.73, +2.38%) , calling for the oil giant to set up an independently administered escrow account to pay claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Obama also talked of the need for more renewable energy.
Obama is meeting with BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg Wednesday morning with the escrow account and the company's dividend payments the focus of attention. While BP's London-listed shares edged higher, its credit-default swaps widened noticeably, indicating the market is increasingly betting the firm will default on bond payments.
Though several major markets were shut for holidays, Asian stocks finished higher, with the mining sector in focus amid talks on the 40% "super-tax" Australia is planning. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.8% to close about the 10,000 mark for the first time since May 20.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.